Tyne & Wear

Sperm whale dies close to Northumberland shore

Dead whale on Northumberland shore Image copyright Owen Humphreys/PA
Image caption Sperm whales are not often seen in the North Sea as it lacks the large squid they would usually feed on

A sperm whale beached in shallow water off the Northumberland coast has died.

The 43ft (13m) mammal was first sighted off Newbiggin-by-the-Sea and then in the Wansbeck estuary, between Cambois and Sandy Bay, on Friday.

It had been struggling off shore before the tide went out, leaving it stranded.

Members of British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) said the young male's prognosis had been "incredibly poor", even if refloating it had been possible.

Intervention could have "led to an even more prolonged and distressing death for the animal", the group said.

Image copyright Owen Humphreys/PA
Image caption The whale died on Friday evening

Sperm whales feed on large squid which are not normally found in the North Sea.

For this reason those found stranded in it in the past have been "almost always in poor nutritional condition, sometimes ill, and extremely unlikely to survive", the BDMLR said.

The death has been logged with the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme based at the Institute of Zoology in London.

A post-mortem examination to find out what may have happened is being considered, the BDMLR said.

The group advised people not to touch the carcass because of the risk of infection.

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