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What's behind Britain's beached whale epidemic?

What’s behind Britain’s beached whale epidemic? Body of FOURTH whale is found in less than a month as experts say Minke whale washed up on a beach had ‘signs of becoming entangled’

  • A stranded sperm whale discovered on a beach in North Wales is latest casualty
  • Expert said second minke whale in Scotland showed ‘signs of entanglement’ 

The second minke whale to wash up on an East Lothian beach in less than a month had ‘signs of becoming entangled’, an expert has said in what could be a breakthrough in answering what is causing Britain’s beached whale epidemic. 

On Sunday, the body of a badly decomposed minke whale was found washed up on a North Berwick beach which sparked a major operation to remove the carcass.

The dead humpback whale was found on a sand bank at Loch Fleet nature reserve in Sutherland on Friday, with experts saying that the juvenile female had died after becoming tangled in creel lines. 

Nick Davison, stranding coordinator at the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme (SMASS), said on inspection of the mammal there ‘were some lesions present suggestive of entanglement’. 

In Scotland, it is the second whale to wash up on the same beach in recent weeks, with workers spending hours removing the nine-tonne carcass of a minke whale which beached on April 19.

This mink whale was washed up on a North Berwick beach on Sunday

Workers previously spent hours removing the nine-tonne carcass of a minke whale from the same North Berwick beach on April 19 

At least four whales have washed up on British beaches in the last month, including two in Scotland, one in north Wales and another in Bridlington, east Yorkshire.

On Monday, the carcass of what experts believe was a young sperm whale washed ashore in on Porth Neigwl on the south coast of the Llyn Peninsula in north Wales.

A spokesperson for the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) said were called to reports of a ‘live stranded large whale’ at around 8am on Bank Holliday Monday. 

Because of high tide, marine mammal medics sent to assess the creature were not able to get close to it, and ‘as the tide retreated, it became clear that the whale had passed away’.

The spokesperson added that the whale’s body was in a ‘incredibly poor condition’. 

A sperm whale was discovered washed ashore in on Porth Neigwl on the south coast of the Llyn Peninsula in north Wales

The carcass of a 30-ton fin whale washed up on a popular beach in Bridlington, East Yorkshire

The 55ft carcass found in Bridlingotn became a macabre tourist attraction, with people coming down to see it and take selfies

Last week, the carcass of a 30-ton fin whale was found washed up on a beach in Bridlington, east Yorkshire with a major operation getting under way to remove the body without dissecting it.

READ MORE: Giant 39ft fin WHALE dies after getting stranded in the North Sea off the East Yorkshire coast

The 55ft mammal last Tuesday after it was spotted getting into difficulties in the sea off Bridlington

The huge carcass macabre tourist attraction, with families coming down to see it and take selfies. But the local council warned people to stay away from the body, citing health fears and respect for the creature.

The whale was spotted in shallow water in the North Sea by Bridlington beach at around 1.15pm on May 3.

It is uncommon for fin whales, the second largest species in the world, to be in the North Sea.

Experts suggested at the time that it could have been suffering from malnutrition or disease. 

Hundreds of people watched as teams from the Coastguard and British Divers Marine Life Rescue tried in vain to save the animal.

Mary Ford, who lives nearby, said: ‘It is very sad to see such a beautiful creature die.

‘It was throwing a huge spout initially, then that got less and less as time went on.’ 

Stranded whales longer than 25ft (7.62m) are considered ‘royal fish’, with the Scottish Government having first claim on those found dead or stranded on the shoreline north of the border on behalf of the Crown.

If it does not want to claim it, it will speak to the local authority and environmental officers, who can then arrange to collect the carcass.

Responsibility for smaller whales, as well as all porpoises, dolphins and sturgeons, lies with the local authority.

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