How should we deal with whale strandings?

PUBLISHED: 07:51 05 February 2016 | UPDATED: 11:54 05 February 2016

Despite rescue attempts, the Sperm Whale passed away at at about 8pm. Photo: PJBayfield

Despite rescue attempts, the Sperm Whale passed away at at about 8pm. Photo: PJBayfield

First light will today reveal what has become an all too familiar scene, as another giant of the sea washes up on our beaches.

How should we deal with strandings?

Jennifer Lonsdale, director of the Environmental Investigation Agency, said: “By the time they’re actually beached, they’ve all that weight resting on their internal organs.

“The body matter will press on the bodily organs and cause catastrophic damage they can’t survive.

“The International Whaling Commission is doing a lot of work on the best way to deal with stranded dolphins, whales and porpoises.

“It’s so dreadful, it’s obviously suffering but how do you euthanase it, it’s really difficult to know what to do.”

Scientists have been taking samples from the beached whales in a bid to find out why they stranded. But the reason why the ocean-going creatures enter shallow waters remains a mystery.

The 40ft sperm whale, which became stranded off Old Hunstanton yesterday morning, failed to swim to safety at high water.

As dusk fell, experts admitted there was nothing they could do to save the creature as the tide fell and the whale died at around 8pm.

A cordon was put in place around the animal as staff from Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary tried to keep it comfortable, by pouring water around its blow hole.

But curator Kieran Copeland said: “All we can do is babysit it and wait for the inevitable. It is very unlikely to survive. There is potentially irreversible damage inside it. All we can do is keep it comfortable.”

Crowds again gathered to see the whale, which beached around a mile north of the LeStrange Hotel. One of the first on the scene was Hunstanton town councillor Kate Dunbar.

“I got here about 7.45am,” she said. “I come down every morning to walk my dogs. From the car park, looking across, you could see it. “The coastguard were already here. I kept back because I didn’t want to interfere with the work they were doing. They dug a hole and let the water fill it, they were taking buckets to it to try and keep it comfortable. There was quite a wind, it was drying out.

It’s very sad. It’s a shame they can’t help it on its way if it’s going to die.”

The whale is around two miles east of where another washed up at Hunstanton two weeks ago and is the 29th whale to have become stranded in the North Sea in recent weeks.

The stranding comes 10 days after a number of whales were seen off the prom at Hunstanton. The following day, three more whales washed up on the beach at Skegness, and another was discovered on a firing range at Wainfleet. Thousands flocked to see the animals, before contractors moved in to dispose of the carcasses.

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