Photo gallery: Whale latest - Experts carry out tests to find cause of death of Sea Palling minke

A minke whale washed up on the beach just north of Sea Palling. Picture: James Bass

A minke whale washed up on the beach just north of Sea Palling. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013

Tests are to be carried out on a young whale that washed up dead on a Norfolk beach.

The minke whale that washed up on Cromer beach on Friday. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

The minke whale that washed up on Cromer beach on Friday. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A small female minke whale was discovered at Sea Palling yesterday morning, just four days after another female minke washed up at Cromer.

The whale was found in a relatively remote area of the beach and described as 'well-fed and otherwise healthy' by Carl Chapman, Norfolk's cetaceans recorder and regional co-ordinator of Seawatch Foundation.

Mr Chapman believes the whale may have become trapped in shallow waters while feeding close to the coast and probably died two or three days ago, unlike the whale found at Cromer on Friday.

The much larger female that washed up near to Cromer pier had been dead for a number of weeks. Mr Chapman believes it may have been hit by a ship but its cause of death is unknown and, due to its state of decomposition, cetacean officers at the Natural History Museum decided against carrying out tests. They have, however, decided to carry out tests on the Sea Palling whale.

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A spokesman for North Norfolk District Council, which had to call in contractors to remove both whales from the beach, said it was protocol to report discoveries to the London museum's cetacean strandings unit and tests carried out by pathologists today may reveal how the female minke died.

'For two whales to wash up in four days is going some,' said Mr Chapman. 'But I don't believe the deaths are related.

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'When stocks of herring are as large as they are at the moment - and I have spoken to fishermen who say it is the best it has been for a number of years - we are going to get more wildlife out there and as a matter of course we're going to see some of that wildlife die.

'We will have to wait for the results of the tests, but from what I can see this was a healthy, well-fed whale.'The creature, believed to be another minke, was found in a remote area of the north east Norfolk beach, near reef one, earlier today.

Mr Chapman, who runs the Norfolk Cetaceans blog, said: 'The whale at Cromer was most likely the victim of a ship strike and had been in the water for some time.

'This is another minke, but quite a small female and she appeared to be in an otherwise good condition; she was well-fed and healthy.

'I would guess that she's probably been caught inside the reefs and was unable to get out.'

Mr Chapman said he heard a rumour that a sperm whale was seen off Sea Palling on Saturday morning, but those reports were false.

The Happisburgh and Mundesley coastguard team received a call that a whale's body had been discovered on Monday morning and advised people not to let their pets too near to the animal due to bacteria.

The minke whale that washed up on Cromer beach on Friday morning was found 800 metres from the pier and, at 25ft, was much larger than the female found at Sea Palling.

It was removed from the beach by North Norfolk District Council at 6.30pm on Friday.

Meanwhile, the huge shoals of herring that have attracted both the minke whales and a humpback to the region remain just off the coast.

The humpback, dubbed Scroby Dick, was first seen off Hemsby on October 29 and has been spotted numerous times by both whale-watchers on the shore and fishermen out at sea.

Dick Thurlow, a Caister fisherman who spotted three whales on one day three weeks ago, said the mature herring being caught between Caister and Happisburgh in recent weeks were the best he had seen in years.

Follow these links below to read up on other recent whale sightings in and around our area:

Videos, photos, graphics: Everything you need to know about Norfolk's newest resident - the Norfolk Whale

Could the Norfolk whale make the east coast its home for winter?

Video and photo gallery: Dead minke whale discovered on Cromer beach

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