Shingle Street: Experts set to begin whale death probe

OFFICIALS are today expected to start an investigation into the death of a young whale that was stranded on a Suffolk beach.

The 20ft mammal was spotted at Shingle Street, near Woodbridge, on Sunday. The body of the juvenile fin whale was left on the beach yesterday and experts from the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) will be on site to start an autopsy today.

Project manager Rob Deaville said: “A stranding such as this is relatively unusual. Usually they [fin whales] would be found in deeper waters towards north west Scotland.

“The North Sea is unfamiliar and it could have led to difficulty feeding. They become dehydrated and it can go downhill quite quickly from there. However, obviously, the post mortem will determine the exact nature of the situation in this case.”

The CSIP, which is funded by Defra, co-ordinates the investigation of all whales, dolphins and porpoises – collectively known as cetaceans, marine turtles and basking sharks that strand around the UK coastline. The stricken mammal was at first believed to be a minke whale but the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), which helped deal with the incident, confirmed it was a young fin.


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Area co-ordinator Emma Webb said: “This is an extremely unusual event. Fin whale are found in the north east Atlantic as far as Iceland and very rarely visit the North Sea at all.

“At this time of year, fin whales are migrating south. This time last year we had sightings of a fin whale in the central North Sea and an animal was successfully re-floated in the Humber.

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“It is possible that these animals are finding new migrationary routes through the North Sea or are recolonising old feeding grounds. Certainly they are being pushed further and further north as sea temperatures rise.”

To report a stranding visit http://ukstrandings.org or www.bdmlr.org.uk

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