Thames Estuary dead whale towed to Sheerness docks

Whale in sea
Image caption Local navigation warnings were issued to vessels in the area

A dead whale has been towed to shore from the Thames Estuary after it was spotted in the sea off Kent.

Thames coastguard said the whale, a young female humpback measuring about 36ft (11m), had been taken to Sheerness docks where experts will examine it.

An alert was raised at about 07:00 GMT after the whale was spotted by crew on a nearby tug, off the Isle of Grain.

Earlier, the coastguard issued navigation warnings to vessels in the area to avoid the animal.

A decision was later made to tow it in after the whale drifted closer to shore, a spokesman said.

'Floated on tide'

Two experts from the Zoological Society of London and the Natural History Museum are to carry out a post-mortem examination on the whale.

Emma Webb, from British Divers Marine Life Rescue, said there were no obvious signs at this stage to show how the whale died.

But she said the mammal was quite young and not fully grown.

"Whales of this type can grow to around 59ft (18m) so this was quite a way under that figure," she said.

"It's not unusual for humpback whales to be in the North Sea at this time of year.

"It was probably feeding in the North Sea and died and perhaps floated down here on the tide."

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