In its prime it would have majestically patrolled the waters as one of the world’s largest creatures.
But yesterday this stranded sperm whale cut a tragic sight, lying partially submerged in the sticky wet sand of the Kent coast.
The 45ft mammal was spotted at Pegwell Bay near Ramsgate in the morning. Rescuers were called, but experts later confirmed the creature had died. Thanet Council faces the task of removing the corpse.
Whale beachings are rarely explained. Scientists attribute them to natural and environmental factors such as rough weather, weakness due to old age, hunting too close to shore and navigation errors.
The public have shown great interest in the corpse but are advised to stay away from the beached whale due to health risks related to bacteria and its odour, a spokesman for the Maritime and Coastal Agency said.
“Our advice is to stay away as much as possible. It could be dangerous due to bacteria and it will probably get quite smelly,’ he said.’As the tide was on the flood, the advice was to leave it to see what happened when the water flooded around it.’It now appears to be completely expired.”
A Thanet District Council spokeswoman said it was seeking advice from the Institute of Zoology to determine how best to move it but they were currently being hampered by the high tide.
A Kent Police spokeswoman said yesterday an officer was on the scene and authorities were also liaising with experts at London’s Natural History Museum, who may be called in to take samples of the sperm whale’s jawbone.
Like dolphins, sperm whales can carry tuberculosis and lung disease and so the public would be well advised to stay away from the corpse. Incidences of whales of this size washing up on the Kent coast are rare, a Kent Coastguard spokesman confirmed.