Sperm whale dies after getting stranded in shallow waters off UK

A sperm whale which had been stranded dangerously close to the shore in Northumberland has died.

Heartbreaking footage shows the 43ft long whale struggling in shallow waters for most of Thursday.

Marine experts were monitoring the animal but decided against re-floating it because the animal could not feed in British waters.

Sperm whales are rarely seen in the North Sea because they normally feed on giant and colossal squid which are found in tropical waters.

A spokeswoman for British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) said: ‘We don’t tend to see sperm whales in the North Sea unless there’s been some sort of a problem – it’s not the habitat that they should be in.

She said the animal might have ‘got lost’ as it swam around the west coast of the UK, or taken a wrong turn as it went north of Scotland

A post-mortem examination will take place on the 30-tonne male sperm whale to establish how it died.

Paul Lanagan, 38, was walking along the beach at Ashington on Thursday evening when he filmed the whale in the shallows.

With its dorsal fin stuck out of the surface of the water, the whale can be seen tragically thrashing to try and get into deeper water.

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



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

Another sperm whale, nicknamed Hessy, was spotted near the River Thames before being pulled out the water dead on Tuesday in Gravesend, Kent.

It is believed the 27-ft juvenile whale died after being struck by a boat after a post-morterm revealed the whale suffered a ‘catastrophic’ jaw injury.

Sperm Whales

Sperm whales were immortalised by the famous 1851 book, Moby Dick, which features a revengeful whaler who is determined to track down and kill a giant sperm whale, which bit off his leg.

Scientists discovered that when they first cut open the whale’s head, a milky substance known as spermaceti – sperm oil – seeped out.

After the finding, they were officially named sperm whales and it is thought this substance controls buoyancy and echo location.

The animals, which have the largest brain of any known sea or land creature, have been hunted mercilessly by whalers for spermaceti.

It is a highly sought out substance as it has been used in lubricants, candles and oil lamps.

Now sperm whales are classed as vulnerable, with around 200,000 thought to be alive today.

The male ones can grow up to 60ft and typically live for around 70 years.

They can dive to depths of up to 1.2 miles, with underwater hunts typically lasting around 30 minutes before they need air.

The highest sound pressure level ever recorded from an animal was from a sperm whale off the coast of Norway, with a sound so powerful it can stun and even kill prey.

Experts have regularly found marks on their bodies from tussles with squids and the whales have even been known to kill various species of shark.

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