Sighting in Penzance was a dwarf sperm whale
A marine research charity has confirmed a small whale spotted near Penzance was a dwarf sperm whale.
The animal, little more than the size of a porpoise, swam into Mounts Bay, in west Cornwall, on Sunday.
Dr Peter Evans, Director of Sea Watch, said the species had never previously been recorded off the UK coast.
The confirmation means that 29 species of cetaceans have now been recorded in UK and Irish waters. Scientists know little about the whale.
The whale was spotted on the beach and the sighting then reported to the coastguard and the Cornwall Wildlife Trust strandings officer, Jan Loveridge.
A member of the public then managed to re-float the animal, which subsequently swam away.
Dr Peter Evans said: "Pictures of the Penzance whale show it to be dwarf sperm whale, its fin being large and almost triangular.
"This species has been recorded on only a handful of occasions in Europe, including Spain and France, and never in Britain or Ireland.
"It is just one of the increasing number of records of warm water species to be turning up around the British Isles in recent years."
So little is known about the dwarf sperm whale, that it is listed as 'data deficient' on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.