‘Lost’ 36ft sperm whale dies after being washed ashore in Northumbria

A sperm whale which got stranded on a beach in Northumbria has died overnight. 

The 36ft animal was thousands of miles off course and would not normally be found in the North Sea. 

Marine experts monitored the animal but decided against trying to refloat the mammal as it would not be able to feed in British coastal waters.  

Sperm whales, the largest of the toothed whales, are not often seen in the North Sea as it lacks the giant and colossal squid they would usually feed on, which are to be found in more tropical waters.

A sperm whale which washed ashore at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea in Northumberland, pictured, has died overnight having got lost after entering the North Sea

A sperm whale which washed ashore at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea in Northumberland, pictured, has died overnight having got lost after entering the North Sea

A sperm whale which washed ashore at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea in Northumberland, pictured, has died overnight having got lost after entering the North Sea

A costguard officer stood by the dead whale on the beach at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea today

A costguard officer stood by the dead whale on the beach at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea today

A costguard officer stood by the dead whale on the beach at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea today

The body is believed to be that of a young male although the cause of his death is not known

The body is believed to be that of a young male although the cause of his death is not known

The body is believed to be that of a young male although the cause of his death is not known

Sperm whales are not normally found in British coastal waters as they are unable to feed due to the lack of their main food source giant squid who are normally found deep in the ocean

Sperm whales are not normally found in British coastal waters as they are unable to feed due to the lack of their main food source giant squid who are normally found deep in the ocean

Sperm whales are not normally found in British coastal waters as they are unable to feed due to the lack of their main food source giant squid who are normally found deep in the ocean

A spokeswoman for British Divers Marine Rescue (BDMLR) told MailOnline ‘We are not sure why the sperm whale was in the North Sea as it was thousands of miles away from its feeding grounds. 

‘We have been monitoring it, but there are no longer any signs of life. We are trying to arrange a post mortem to determine a cause of death. 

‘We do not know if it was sick, injured or simply got lost.’ 

The whale was first spotted around 200 yards off shore when it was washed in on the tide.   

Members of the public gathered shortly before sunset yesterday to watch the struggling whale

Members of the public gathered shortly before sunset yesterday to watch the struggling whale

Members of the public gathered shortly before sunset yesterday to watch the struggling whale 

Marine mammal experts monitored the animal but decided it was not in its best interests to attempt to refloat the whale

Marine mammal experts monitored the animal but decided it was not in its best interests to attempt to refloat the whale

Marine mammal experts monitored the animal but decided it was not in its best interests to attempt to refloat the whale

British Divers Marine Rescue hope to arrange a post mortem to determine the whale's cause of death

British Divers Marine Rescue hope to arrange a post mortem to determine the whale's cause of death

British Divers Marine Rescue hope to arrange a post mortem to determine the whale’s cause of death 

The sperm whale would normally be found in temperate deep ocean waters where it is able to feed upon giant squid

The sperm whale would normally be found in temperate deep ocean waters where it is able to feed upon giant squid

The sperm whale would normally be found in temperate deep ocean waters where it is able to feed upon giant squid

It is not known whether the animal was injured or was sick before getting lost

It is not known whether the animal was injured or was sick before getting lost

It is not known whether the animal was injured or was sick before getting lost

The animal was first spotted when it was around 200 yards offshore but was washed in on the tide before becoming stranded

The animal was first spotted when it was around 200 yards offshore but was washed in on the tide before becoming stranded

The animal was first spotted when it was around 200 yards offshore but was washed in on the tide before becoming stranded 

The expert added that sightings of sperm whales in the waters around the UK are ‘very rare’.

The Coastguard said the animal had first been spotted at around 3.35pm on Thursday, but was not seen to be ‘causing any safety risk to vessels or members of the public on the beach and promenade’.

Eyewitness Paul Langan, 38, was walking along the beach in Ashington yesterday around 5pm when he saw the whale struggling. 

He said: ‘I’ve never seen anything like this before. 

‘There was a crowd on the coast gathered watching and we were all very sad.’ 

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT SPERM WHALES?

Sperm Whales belong to the suborder of toothed whales and dolphins, known as odontocetes, and is one of the easiest whales to identify at sea. 

The creatures gained their name during the days of commercial whaling.

Whalers thought that their large square heads were huge reservoirs for sperm, because when the head was cut open it was found to contain a milky white substance.

An intestinal secretion called ambergris found in sperm whales was used as a fixative in the perfume industry.

At one time, it was worth more than its weight in gold but this is no longer the case.

Sperm whales gained their name during the days of commercial whaling. Whalers thought that their large square heads were huge reservoirs for sperm, because when the head was cut open it was found to contain a milky white substance

Sperm whales gained their name during the days of commercial whaling. Whalers thought that their large square heads were huge reservoirs for sperm, because when the head was cut open it was found to contain a milky white substance

Sperm whales gained their name during the days of commercial whaling. Whalers thought that their large square heads were huge reservoirs for sperm, because when the head was cut open it was found to contain a milky white substance

Its skin is dark or brownish grey, with white markings around the lower jaw and underside. It has relatively short, stubby flippers and a low hump instead of a dorsal fin. 

Its diet is largely made up of squid. The creatures have a life expectancy roughly equivalent to a human’s, at around 70 years.

Males grow to around 18.3 metres (60 feet), with females reaching 12 metres (40 feet). Their young, or calfs, grow to around 3.5 metres (11 feet).

They have a maximum weight of around 57,000 kilograms (125 tonnes) for males.

The sperm whale’s huge head, which is up to 1/3 of its overall body length, houses the heaviest brain in the animal kingdom.

It also contains a cavity large enough for a small car to fit inside which holds a yellowish wax known as spermaceti oil, thought to help in buoyancy control when diving and act as an acoustic lens.

They have between 40 and 52 teeth in their long, narrow lower jaw which are thick and conical, and can grow to 20cm (eight inches) long and weigh 1kg (two pounds) each.

The sperm whale is one of the deepest diving mammals in the world, regularly making dives of up to 400 metres (1,300 feet) sometimes reaching depths of up to two to three kilometres (one to two miles)

It is thought to be able to hold its breath for up to two hours, although 45 minutes is the average dive time.

Sperm whales are found in most of the world’s oceans, except the high Arctic, and prefer deep waters.

The exact current worldwide population is not known, but it is estimated at around 100,000. The sperm whale is listed as a vulnerable species.

link

(Visited 22 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply