Whale washed up dead at Old Hunstanton Beach, in Norfolk

A 40ft sperm whale has been found washed up dead on a Norfolk beach.

The huge mammal, found by a dog walker on Christmas Eve, had a large gash to its stomach.

The sand around its tail did not appear disturbed, suggesting the creature was dead before the tide carried it onto the sands at Old Hunstanton.

Large crowds gathered to see the whale, which is near the high tide mark, close to the Lifeboat Station and LeStrange Arms. Whales are occasionally found dead on beaches around The Wash.

A spokesman for the British Divers Marine Life Rescue said it may have been the same whale which had been seen dead on the RAF's bombing range on the other side of the estuary, at Holbeach, some weeks ago.

Scientists from the Zooological Society have already taken samples from the animal, which will be left to be carried away by the tide to decompose naturally.