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


2012-09-26 16:50:12

Update on Northumberland Sei whale

This morning at around 8.20am a call came in to the BDMLR out of hours coordinator about a whale that had beached at Druridge Bay in Northumberland.

Local BDMLR volunteers were called to assess its condition and to give it first aid until a veterinary surgeon arrived to assess the whale's condition.

Sadly the 8 metre whale, originally thought to be a Minke whale but now identified as a Sei whale, was deemed to be in too poor a condition to be refloated.  It was extremely thin and malnourished and would not have survived in the open sea, the the vets made the decision to humanely euthanise it.

A team from the Cetaceans Strandings Investigation Programme are on their way and will conduct a post mortem over the next day or so to try and determine the cause of the whale's stranding.

BDMLR would like to thank all who took part in this incident, especially the vets who responded, the Fire and Rescue, Coastguard, country park wardens and our volunteer medics who remained with the animal for most of the day.

Update as at 10.30 27.09.2012

Following a post mortem examination of the Sei whale last night, the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme have provided the following update.

The 8.6m juvenile female sei whale was in moderate-poor nutritional condition, with comparatively thin blubber deposits and atrophy of the dorsal musculature. No evidence of recent feeding was found and bile staining of the intestinal tract indicated a period of inanition (starvation). No other significant findings were made during the gross post-mortem. Bacteriological, histological and blood haematology/biochemistry analyses are pending and may shed further light on this stranding. The moderate to poor nutritional condition and evidence of lack of recent feeding, together with the whales potential status as being maternally dependent entirely justify the decision taken to euthanase the animal on welfare grounds.

This is the second stranding of a sei whale in the UK this year- again as mentioned by colleagues from BDMLR, another sei whale stranded in Scotland earlier this month and a further post will be made about this stranding shortly. Sei whales are an unusual species to find stranded in the UK- the whale which stranded yesterday is the sixth in the UK since the inception of the CSIP in 1990 and only the 16th since the Natural History Museum began collecting data on UK strandings in 1913. 

The remains of the whale will be disposed of later today by the local authority- we would like to thank the staff from Druridge Bay Country Park who helped facilitate the post-mortem examination yesterday evening and made our job considerably easier.

Any further results of significance will be posted when available. Information on this and other strandings in the UK over the last year will also be published in the CSIP annual report for 2012.


Stephen Marsh
BDMLR Operations Manager