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What will happen next to the body of minke whale washed up at Weybourne near Sheringham?

PUBLISHED: 16:16 10 February 2016 | UPDATED: 16:20 10 February 2016

The dead minke whale washed up on Sheringham beach. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

The dead minke whale washed up on Sheringham beach. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

Archant

The latest sea animal corpse to wash up on the Norfolk coast has been identified as a minke whale - dashing hopes it could explain a recent spate of whale strandings.

The 20ft-long minke whale, first spotted at Salthouse last month, came to rest over a wooden groyne at Sheringham.

North Norfolk District Council chiefs went to investigate this afternoon. A council spokesman said: “We are currently assessing the situation to see whether it is necessary to remove the minke whale carcass before the next high tide or allow tonight’s high tide to move the carcass and for nature to take its course.”

Chiefs were advising people not to touch the whale or allow dogs to come into contact with it.

The badly-decomposed body, which has been gradually rolling down the coast, came to rest at Weybourne on Tuesday evening.

The dead creature, at first thought to be a giant squid, rolling in the surf at Weybourne. Picture: SUE WEBBERThe dead creature, at first thought to be a giant squid, rolling in the surf at Weybourne. Picture: SUE WEBBER

It was spotted there, half submerged and in fast-fading light, by villagers Max and Sue Webber, and local fisherman Johnny Seago who thought they could see tentacles and mistook it for a giant squid.

But that theory was quashed later in the night when it was properly examined under artificial light by someone acting on behalf of Norfolk cetacean recorder Carl Chapman.

He confirmed it was actually the Salthouse minke whale.

Mr Chapman said he hoped the mistaken identification would not discourage people from reporting findings for fear they were wrong.

Sea creature washed up on Weybourne beach. 

Picture: MARK BULLIMORESea creature washed up on Weybourne beach. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

“There are always false alarms but, on the odd occasion, it comes up trumps. I’d much rather people got in touch so that we can investigate,” he added.

Dr Peter Evans, director of the national Sea Watch Foundation, said minke whale were relatively rare off the Norfolk coast but were not uncommon around the Dogger Bank, north-east of The Wash. “They tend to live in rather deeper waters,” he added.

There had been a “fairly marked increase” in minke whale numbers since the 1980s but that had now stabilised.

“They are associated with an increase in herring - especially in July, August and September - which is one of their prey species,” Dr Evans said.

Recorded sightings off Norfolk last year include July off West Runton; September, Cley; October (dead) Overstrand and Paston; November, Trimingham, Mundesley and Happisburgh.

Have you got any whale tales or photos? Contact alex.hurrell@archant.co.uk

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