A WHALE rarely seen from the region’s coastline has died after beaching in Suffolk.

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The 20ft minke whale struggled for about half an hour to free itself from the shore at Shingle Street but died shortly after the arrival of an inshore lifeboat crew from Aldeburgh.

Onlookers watched helplessly as the whale struggled in the shallows.

Angler Charles Wood, of Ipswich, was fishing on the beach when he saw the drama unfold shortly after 3pm yesterday.

He said: “I was facing Orford Ness about a quarter-mile from the shingle spit and saw something thrashing around at the top of the beach.

“At first I thought it was a killer whale trying to get hold of a seal – but as the tide went down it uncovered what looked more like a minke.

“It must have become confused by the shallow water. I’ve seen plenty of porpoises and seals off the shore but never anything like this. It’s quite sad.”

Jimmy Robinson, deputy launching authority at Aldeburgh lifeboat, said the whale was still moving when he and his crew arrived.

A Harwich Coastguard spokeswoman said: “The Natural History Museum will come and carry out an autopsy to find out what the whale died from – it’s all in their hands now. We are just hoping it doesn’t float off at high water.”

Minke whales are found in the northern North Sea but rarely reach local waters and are seldom seen close to shore.

A smaller minke was put down after it was stranded on a beach in Northumberland last week.

Simone Bullion, of Suffolk Wildlife Trust, has written on the subject of minke whales and their appearance on the East Anglian coast.

According to records, the last sighting was in 2007 off Kessingland. Before that, a minke was temporarily stranded in the River Stour in 1986. The last instance of a minke carcass being found was in 1982 at Easton Broad.

5 comments

  • Where is the cast pf Free Willy when you need them

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    the opinion man

    Sunday, September 30, 2012

  • Such a shame, beautiful creature.

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    a friend

    Monday, October 1, 2012

  • That appears to be a juvenile fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus). Note the dark gray extending unto the left side of the whale. It's also appears to lack the white flipper bands characteristic of minke whales, although you can't get the best view of them from this angle. Do you know how long it is?

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    OttaSotta

    Sunday, September 30, 2012

  • With each stranding in the UK, it seems appropriate to ask when will the public begin to ask the oil companys responsible for funding these seismic testing to become accountable for these mammal deaths? Your press has reported on the following stranding within your waters since the beginning of August: 2 fin whales strandings, 1 beaked whale stranding, 1 unusual sighting of humpback in Netherlands' harbor, mass stranding of 29 pilot whales, 2 sei whales strandings and baleen whale stranding. At the same time seismic and other surveys have been going on which includes the following research vessels: Polarcus Adira, Celtic Voyager, Geo Caspian, Tasman, Vantage, Ramform Viking, Symphony, Western Pride, Geco Triton, and Bibi Tethra. We the people alone must ask that our governments begin in earnest to fully investiage the connection between seismic testing and cetacean deaths when the circumstantial evidence points directly at seismic testing as instigating these strandings. What has been lacking is the utilization of randomly selected & independent entities being responsible for collecting and analyzing all factors surround these strandings and deaths.

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    Edward Johnson

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012

  • The Northumberland whale was a sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis).

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    OttaSotta

    Sunday, September 30, 2012

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