Plants and Animals

Dead Whale "Explodes" On British Beach

January 25, 2016 | by Tom Hale

Photo credit: Two of the spray-painted sperm whales found beached in Skegness, Lincolnshire. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Warning: Graphic image below

Five sperm whales have washed up on three beaches on the east coast of England since last Friday.

The first was found in Hunstanton, Norfolk on Friday. Two of the whales were found on a beach just feet apart from each other near Skegness, Lincolnshire at about 8:30 p.m. local time on Saturday, while a fourth was discovered close by on Sunday morning. The fifth whale was found in Wainfleet, Lincolnshire during the early afternoon today.

Researchers are saying that all five are likely to be from the same pod.

On Monday morning, the whales at Skegness were found with anti-nuclear messages spray painted across their bodies. “Fukishima RIP – man killed me” and “mans fault” was graffitied across one of the carcasses, referring to the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster.

The other whale had “CND” and a Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament "peace" logo painted on it’s tail fin. Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) have said this was not carried out by the organization at a national level, the BBC reported.

There is no evidence to suggest these whales were killed by anything to do with Fukishima, though – and one could certainly question the rationale behind people willing to descerate dead animals to make a political statement.

Lifeboat crews and locals tried to save the first whale in Norfolk, which reportedly was found still alive. However, the whale had sustained injuries to its tail from thrashing around and proved too heavy to be moved.

Geoff Needham, from the Hunstanton Lifeboat Station, told The Guardian: “This large animal was unable to make for deeper water. As the tide was dropping away, nothing more could be done.”

Two of the graffitied whales at Skegness, Lincolnshire, just feet apart from eachother. Image credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The BBC reported that one of the whales in Skegness had exploded on Monday afternoon from built-up gases, releasing a "huge blast of air" after scientists were probing it.

The pod of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) is believed to be linked to the recent spate of whales beached in the Netherlands and Germany.

Although the cause of the increase in whales becoming beached is unknown, it is being investigated by scientists from the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP). They have already taken samples of the whales' skin, blubber, teeth, and blood, while also aiming to carry out a full postmortem on the bodies.

James Gilbert, from East Lindsey District Council, told the BBC that the situation at Skegness was "unbelievably sad."

He added: "All three are massive, beautiful animals, and it's just such a shame to see them on the beach in that way."

This species of sea mammal can be found roaming most of the world’s ocean waters. The whales found in the east of England are thought to be of typical size, measuring around 15 meters (50 feet) in length. To sustain this massive body weight, sperm whales have to eat over 900 kilograms (2,000 pounds) of fish and squid a day.

 

 

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