Fate of dead whale at Sheringham to be re-assessed this morning

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

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

The fate of a long-dead whale, washed up in north Norfolk, is set to be re-assessed this morning.

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

North Norfolk District Council chiefs, who are responsible for disposing of the carcass, went to investigate but decided not to take action ahead of yesterday evening's high tide.

Chiefs are 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.

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.

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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.

'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 that 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.

There were a number of minke whale sightings off north Norfolk last year.

They included incidents in July, off West Runton; September, Cley; October (dead) Overstrand and Paston; November, Trimingham, Mundesley and Happisburgh.

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

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