Whale carcass washes up on rocks at Hartland Quay

Fin whale Image copyright Callum Clarke
Image caption The whale had already partly decomposed by the time it washed up in Devon

A decomposing whale carcass thought to be as long as 10m (32ft) has washed up on the rocks in Devon.

The fin whale's remains were spotted near Hartland Quay at about 16:00 GMT on Wednesday.

Richard Haste from Torridge Council said it would require a "major operation" to remove the whale.

He urged people to avoid the area and dog owners to keep dogs on leads due to the possible bio-hazard risks.

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British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) were involved in checking and identifying the whale.

Image copyright Callum Clarke
Image caption It is thought the whale died at sea and washed up on a high tide

Stephen Marsh from the charity said it was clear from the first photos it was a fin whale. He said it was small, less than half the 25m the creature can grow to.

He said: "With Fin whales we get about five or six a year coming into the UK but they are usually dead.

"We don't know where it came from; it could have washed up anywhere. The majority of these animals die at sea and we never see them."

Cheryl Fan Duerden, sent by the charity to identify the whale, said: "Very sad to see it flopped over and lodged amongst the rocks and blood in the rock pools, but to see a whale in its entirety is still pretty awesome."

She said she went with her husband on Wednesday evening to investigate and found the whale was already in a bad state of decomposition.

She said: "The skin was gone so it would've probably died a couple of weeks ago and washed up on a high tide."

Torridge Council could not say how much the removal of the whale would cost but Mr Marsh said it was likely to be "very expensive".

Image copyright Callum Clarke

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