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Wednesday, 01 October 2014

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Whale washed up on Cumbrian beach

One of the world’s largest animals and an endangered species has been discovered washed up on Drigg beach.

Drigg whale photo
The whale

The mammal is either a fin whale or a sei whale, according to experts, and could have come from as far as Hawaii.

The startling discovery was made by Edna Kennedy, from Eskdale, who said: “At first we weren’t sure what it was but, as we got closer, we could see it was huge.

“I couldn’t believe how big it was – it was the last thing you’d expect to find when walking the dogs.”

Richard Harrington, Marine Conservation Society communications manager, said: “While we can’t be totally sure from the pictures we’ve seen, it looks most likely to be a fin whale.

“The fin whale is an endangered species and the fastest of all whales.

“Fin whales are very large, oceanic species and can be found in deeper waters to the north and west of the UK, although they do enter the North and Irish Sea occasionally.

“They are the second-biggest animal on the planet, behind only the blue whale.

“They are very fast swimmers, and eat small crustaceans, fish and squid which they take in through a broad, gaping mouth and filter from the seawater.”

Dr Emily Baxter, marine conservation officer for the North West Wildlife Trust, said: “Given the state of decomposition I would find it hard to positively ID this as a fin whale as the distinctive features are not visible.

“Fin whales are often confused with the smaller sei whale and I think considering the size it is more likely to be a sei.”

Sei whales are the third largest animal in the world and swim at the same speeds as the fin whale.

Dr Baxter said there were several reasons why the whale could have been beached, including collision with ships, entanglement in fishing gear, ingestion of marine litter, toxic chemicals and sonar from military or industry testing.

It is understood Copeland council is the authority responsible for disposing of the body.

This isn’t the first whale to be washed up on the beaches of Copeland; a minke whale was washed up on Seascale beach in 2006 and porpoises are occasionally found.

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