Large sperm whale spotted near to shore at Northumberland coast dies hours after becoming stranded

A whale spotted off the Northumberland coast has died just hours after becoming stranded, the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) has confirmed.

Saturday, 12th October 2019, 11:33 am
Updated Saturday, 12th October 2019, 4:58 pm
The whale spotted near to shore.

A large sperm whale was being monitored by the organisation’s volunteer Marine Mammal Medics as it swam close to shore at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea in Northumberland on Friday, October 11.

In a statement on the BDMLR’s Facebook page, it was confirmed on Friday night that the creature had died.

The whale was 13.3 metres long and could have weighed up to 30 tons.

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Members of the public watch on at the Northumberland coast.

Members of the public were at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea watching the animal, after it was spotted in shallow waters.

The organisation’s statement said: “Unfortunately, but as expected, the whale in Northumberland did become stranded later on this afternoon and subsequently died shortly thereafter.

“Some of our volunteers were accompanied out to the carcass this evening by the Coastguard team to confirm death and to take measurements and photographs for the national database held by our colleagues at the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme - UK strandings based at the Institute of Zoology, London.

“It is hoped that arrangements can be made for their team to carry out a post mortem examination to further reveal what may have been happening with this animal.”

Sperm whales are a specialist deep diving species that should not normally enter the North Sea as the depth is far too shallow and their usual prey of squid is very scarce.

They should normally be found many miles to the west of the UK out off the continental shelf, which is their usual habitat.

The animal in Northumberland is well more than 400km from its home.

The British Divers Marine Life Rescue has advised members of the public to avoid contact with the whale’s carcass while their necessary work continues.

Its statement added: “It is very important to note that cetaceans are mammals like us humans, and therefore able to carry serious diseases that can be transmitted between us.

“We would advise members of the public to avoid all contact with the carcass and any bodily fluids to avoid any risk of infection from them - there is the possibility that this may have been an animal that was already ill.”