Oct. 12 (UPI) — A 33-ton sperm whale died after swimming close to the shore in Northumberland, England, animal rescue officials said.
On Thursday, the 43.6-foot-long whale was observed in the shallow waters of the North Sea. On Friday, it became stuck in the sand along the coast line of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea and subsequently died. Officials planned a necropsy.
A spokesman for the British Divers Marine Life Rescue said Friday the young male was “probably not going to survive” due to lack of food.
Sperm whales, which are the largest of the toothed species, are rarely seen in the North Sea because of the lack of giant squid to consume.
“Experience and scientific evidence from sperm whales and other deep diving whale species [such as the Northern bottlenose whale] found stranded in this geographical region in the past have therefore proven that these animals are almost always in poor nutritional condition, sometimes ill and extremely unlikely to survive,” British Divers Marine Life Rescue posted on Facebook. “Were they to be refloated again then the prognosis would be incredibly poor and lead to an even more prolonged and distressing death for the animal.”
People were urged to stay away from the dead animal.
“It is very important to note that cetaceans [whales, dolphins and porpoises] are mammals like us humans, and therefore able to carry serious diseases that can be transmitted between us,” British Divers Marine Life Rescue posted. “We would advise members of the public to avoid all contact with the carcass and any bodily fluids to avoid any risk of infection from them — there is the possibility that this may have been an animal that was already ill. Incidents like this do tend to draw crowds and we would urge people to please be respectful of this situation and advice provided.
Last weekend, a humpback whale nicknamed Hessy died after it swam into the Thames River in London and was struck by a boat.