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Sperm whale stranded at Old Hunstanton dies

PUBLISHED: 20:33 04 February 2016 | UPDATED: 10:46 05 February 2016

A whale has become stranded in the sea at Old Hunstanton. Picture: Ian Burt

A whale has become stranded in the sea at Old Hunstanton. Picture: Ian Burt

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A sperm whale which washed up on Hunstanton beach this morning has died, divers have confirmed.

British Divers Marine Life Rescue confirmed this evening that the 40ft sperm whale, which washed up on the coast early this morning, had died.

Earlier today experts said they feared there was nothing they could do to save the animal.

Staff from Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary said they would do their best 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.

The sperm whale which washed up on the beach at Old Hunstanton today. Picture: Chris BishopThe sperm whale which washed up on the beach at Old Hunstanton today. Picture: Chris Bishop

“It is very unlikely to survive. There is potentially irreversible damage inside it. All we can do is keep it comfortable.”

There were hopes the whale might swim free on this afternoon’s tide. But it remained on its side, its tail flukes occasionally breaking surface, as high water passed.

Crowds again gathered to see the whale, which beached around a mile north of the LeStrange Hotel this morning.

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. I thought that looks like another whale.

“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, I don’t think they’re very hopeful about it. It’s a shame they can’t help it on its way if it’s going to die.”

HM Coastguard said it received a call from a member of the public reporting the creature had become beached at Old Hunstanton at 7.30am.

“It’s quite large, in excess of 14m,” a spokesman added. “It’s just to the north side of the lifeboat station. I believe that at the time it was reported to us it was probably still alive, but after having beached itself, with the loss of buoyancy, they don’t have a record of surviving thereafter.”

The whale was around two miles east of where another bull sperm whale washed up two weeks ago and is the 29th whale to have become stranded in the North Sea in the last few weeks.

The latest stranding comes 10 days after a number of whales were seen off the prom at Hunstanton.

A lifeboat crew tried to coax it to safety, but it became trapped on rocks. The following day, three more whales washed up on the beach at Skegness, and another was discovered on a firing range at Wainfleet.

Scientists took samples, to see if they can establish why the creatures entered the shallow waters of The Wash.

Thousands flocked to see the animals, before contractors moved in to dispose of the carcasses.

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