British Divers Marine Life Rescue
British Divers Marine Life Rescue (photo: Steve Marsh)
British Divers Marine Rescue

News

2011-03-04 16:29:02

Sperm Whale beaches in Kent

Sperm whale (Photo: Brett Lewis Photography)Early in the morning of Thursday, 3rd March 2010, Jon Brooks, BDMLR Coordinator for East Kent, took a call about a large whale in Pegwell Bay from the Coastguard.  Jon then called Karen Kirk, BDMLR's on-duty out-of-hours coordinator, who then set about calling out experienced medics to attend for the initial assessment.

Jon then prepared and launched BDMLR’s rescue boat Amanda and a small BDMLR team went out to view the whale, that was then identified as a dead 45ft (13.7 m) male Sperm Whale.

When the whale beached later in the day at low tide, pathologists from the Zoological Society of London and the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) were able to begin a post mortem.  They then returned to the whale at 2am on the Friday morning at the next low tide, to continue the post mortem under floodlights and took tissue and organ samples back to their laboratory.  A report will be published in due course.

Sperm whales occasionally enter the North Sea, but with their natural habitat being deep water, it can be a bit of a death trap. Usually feeding on deep-sea squid at depths in excess of 1,000 metres, they find little sustenance in the relatively shallow depths (the North Sea has an average depth of just 95 metres) and are often unable to find their way out.

The carcase will now be disposed of by the local council.  Police and Coastguard are discouraging members of the public from getting too close to the dead whale as being mammals, the risk of disease being transferred from the whale to humans and pets is high. The Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) is also reminding public that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) makes it illegal to posses any part of a whale without the appropriate licence.

Thanks are due to all individuals and organisations who were involved over the last couple of days.

» View th BBC report

Stephen Marsh
BDMLR Operations Manager