Rare whale stranded on Druridge Bay

Posted on 16th October 2012 | in Heritage & Tourism

A vet assessed the young whale’s condition but deemed it too ill to be returned to the sea.
Photo by Gordon Taylor

The whale that was discovered stranded on Druridge Bay in September has been identified as a rare Sei whale, say marine experts.

The 26ft whale was a young female and was cared for by staff from Druridge Bay Country Park and volunteers from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue organisation, until a vet arrived to assess the whale’s condition.

Stephen Marsh BDMLR Operations Manager said “Sadly the 8 metre whale, originally thought to be a Minke whale but now identified as a Sei whale, was deemed to be in too poor a condition to be refloated.  It was extremely thin and malnourished and would not have survived in the open sea, the vets made the decision to humanely euthanase it.”
After a post mortem, the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme provided an update, declaring the young creature to have likely been dependent on its mother for food, but have undergone a period of starvation.

“The 8.6m juvenile female sei whale was in moderate-poor nutritional condition, with comparatively thin blubber deposits and atrophy of the dorsal musculature. No evidence of recent feeding was found and bile staining of the intestinal tract indicated a period of starvation. The moderate to poor nutritional condition and evidence of lack of recent feeding, together with the whale’s potential status as being maternally dependent, entirely justify the decision taken to euthanase the animal on welfare grounds.”

Sei whales are an endangered species and not native to these shores. Another sei whale was found in Scotland earlier in September. It is not known whether this was the mother of the juvenile on Druridge Bay.

According to the BDMLR, Sei whales are an unusual species to find stranded in the UK. This is the sixth in the UK since 1990 and only the 16th since the Natural History Museum began collecting data on UK strandings in 1913.

Mr Marsh said “BDMLR would like to thank all who took part in this incident, especially the vets who responded, the Fire and Rescue, Coastguard, country park wardens and our volunteer medics who remained with the animal for most of the day.”

Info from www.bdmlr.org.uk printed with permission.

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