Huge female whale washes up dead on Cornwall beach before swimming back out to sea

Huge female whale washes up dead on Cornwall beach before swimming back out to sea

  • The fin whale – the second largest animal on earth – was spotted on Friday
  • BDMLR was made aware of the beached whale near Perranuthnoe Beach
  • Volunteer marine mammal medics attended, but the whale was confirmed dead
  • When they came back to look for the animal on Friday, it was nowhere to be seen

This is the moment a giant female whale washes up dead on a Cornish beach before swimming back out to sea.

The fin whale – the second largest animal on earth – was spotted along the south coast of Cornwall on Friday – marine experts at the Cornwall Wildlife Trust are now urging the public to help track the whale after it was swept away overnight.

British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) was made aware of the stranded whale at 3:20pm Friday afternoon after someone reported that the whale was alive at Perranuthnoe Beach.

A team of volunteer marine mammal medics were on site, but the whale was confirmed dead on arrival.

A fin whale, the world's second largest animal, was spotted off the south coast of Cornwall on Friday

A fin whale, the world’s second largest animal, was spotted off the south coast of Cornwall on Friday

Someone reported what was believed to be a live whale near Perranuthnoe Beach on Friday afternoon

Someone reported what was believed to be a live whale near Perranuthnoe Beach on Friday afternoon

Dan Jarvis, Director at BDMLR said: “The whale wasn’t very easy to spot because it was lying on a headland some distance off shore and was still mostly underwater.

“Only his head really stood out, as it had been pushed onto the rocks by the rough sea while the rest of his body was being agitated by the high tide and waves.

“Unfortunately, when we arrived, it turned out that the 12 to 15 meter long animal had already died.

“It was far too dangerous to get close so our team stayed behind at a safe distance to visually assess it, collect photos and relay information to our colleagues at Cornwall Wildlife Trust and the Falmouth Coastguard.”

The animal was later identified as a female fin whale by BDMLR volunteers.

Volunteer marine mammal medics were on site, but the whale was confirmed dead upon arrival

Volunteer marine mammal medics were on site, but the whale was confirmed dead upon arrival

Poor nutrition was assumed, but the cause of death could not be determined without an autopsy.

A volunteer from Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Marine Strandings Network was also on site.

The whale was then examined by the Cornwall Marine Pathology team for a possible autopsy the next day.

However, when volunteers returned to search for the whale on Friday, it was gone.

Sightings of large whales, including fin and humpback whales, have become increasingly common along the Cornish coast in recent years.

The fin whale pictured can grow up to 80 feet in length and weigh up to 120 tons. [File image]

The fin whale pictured can grow up to 80 feet in length and weigh up to 120 tons. [File image]

Volunteers from Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Seaquest Southwest project recorded 12 fin whale and 21 humpback whale records in 2021.

The fin whale

The fin whale – also known as the “greyhounds of the sea” – can grow up to 25 meters long and weigh up to 120 tons.

The species is found all over the world but was heavily hunted in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The fin whale is currently listed as a vulnerable species according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Abby Crosby, Marine Conservation Officer at Cornwall Wildlife Trust, said: “To see the body of this majestic mammal on land is extremely harrowing and sad.

“But if the animal is found again, it will present us with a fantastic opportunity to study the individual and gather scientifically robust evidence that will help us conserve our marine megafauna for the future.”

“We at Cornwall Wildlife Trust are celebrating 20 years of the Marine Strandings Network this year.

“It’s safe to say we would know a lot less about the state of our seas in Cornwall and the threats to our vulnerable marine life were it not for our dedicated stranding volunteers, reports from members of the public and the partner organizations we work with work so closely with.’

She added: “If you come across the whale, or indeed any dead sea creature on our coast, please call our hotline immediately.”

Animal welfare organizations are now asking anyone who might find the missing whale to report it immediately.

The public is urged to report any dead animals found along the Cornish coast to the Trust’s 24-hour stranding hotline on 0345 2012626.

In the meantime, any animals stranded alive that require rescue can be reported to the BDMLR rescue hotline on 01825 765526.

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Emma Colton

Janice Dean is a WSTPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Janice Dean joined WSTPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: janicedean@wstpost.com.

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