A 45-foot whale that got stuck in very shallow waters on Friday afternoon (22 January) on the beach at Hunstanton, Norfolk, died last night, say members of an RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution).
Despite rescue efforts involving the RNLI and personnel from the Hunstanton’s Sea Life Centre, the 30-tonne whale did not survive.
According to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency:
“At around 3.30pm yesterday afternoon, the whale was spotted in a pod of up to six whales swimming close to the beach. Despite efforts from British Divers Marine Life Rescue and Beach Wardens from the Sea Life Centre to refloat the whale out to sea it later died at around 11pm. The whale is estimated to be 40-45ft long and weighs approximately 30 tonnes.”
The death of the sperm whale was sad news for those who tried to rescue it, many locals, and millions of people across the UK who had been following its progress. (Image: twitter.com/LucyMcRobert1)
A pod of four whales initially got stuck. Three of them managed to get back into deeper water and free themselves.
On Friday night, when the tide came in, the unfortunate whale that had not managed to escape and died, was washed out to sea.
On Saturday morning it washed up once again near to the lighthouse in Old Hunstanton.
In an interview with Anglia News, Geoff Needham said it disappeared again – taken out by the tide.
Mr. Needham said:
“We’re not sure where the whale will wash up again next, it could head up with the tide towards Brancaster following the coast along.”
A team from the Zoological Society will go to the West Norfolk coast and try to carry out an examination of the whale when it is located again.
Unusual for sperm whales to swim near beach
It is quite uncommon for sperm whales to come so near to the coast. The last time one was seen in the area was four years ago.
Initially four sperm whales got stuck, then three got away. Sadly, this one did not make it and died. (Image: twitter.com/hunny_bird)
UK Coastguard Richard Johnson said:
“It was obviously a very distressing scene earlier and we would ask the public to stay away from the beach. We are due to cordon off the area and later today an officer from the Zoological Society of London will be inspecting the animal and carrying out tests.”
Brian Long, portfolio holder for the environment with West Norfolk council, told the Eastern Daily Press that specialist contractors would be brought in to cut up the carcass and remove the whale. He added that the operation was unlikely to begin until Monday.
Mr. Long said:
“It’s a terrible thing, we’d advise the public to keep away from it,” he said. “They do attract a lot of attention, being such big animals, people do flock to look.”
Video – Sperm whale struggling in shallow waters
This video footage, taken by Gary Pearson, from Dersingham, shows the sperm whale struggling in shallow waters off Hunstanton, Norfolk. It later died after injuring its tail.