'Drowned' whale washes up on beach in East Lothian

By Angie Brown
BBC Scotland, Edinburgh and East reporter

Image source, Neil Clark/East Lothian Countryside Ranger Service

A humpback whale has been found dead after being washed up on an East Lothian beach.

The young male, which is about nine metres long (30ft), was found at John Muir Country Park, near Tyningham.

Experts believe the animal had been feeding in the area and became entangled in rope before drowning.

The whale is due to be refloated out to sea before being taken to another beach later ahead of a post mortem on Wednesday.

Image source, Neil Clark/East Lothian Countryside Ranger Service

Dr Andrew Brownlow, veterinary pathologist for the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme, told the BBC Scotland news website that ropes were a "particular hazard" to filter-feeding whales.

He said: "These events are reasonably rare and we haven't had a humpback whale entanglement for two to three years.

"If we investigate these deaths we can understand how these animals have become entangled, which helps us to work with fishermen and other industries that use the ocean to mitigate the effects on these species.

"During the post mortem we can ascertain where the rope has come from and how long it has been entangled around the whale due to evidence from any scar tissue that might be present.

"It looks like it has become entangled and then drowned before being blown onto the shore at high tide."

Humpback whales breed in warmer waters in the Azores before moving to more northern waters to take advantage of the food stocks during the summer months.

An East Lothian Council spokeswoman said: "The whale is a 9m juvenile humpback whale and believed to have died relatively recently.

"Our countryside rangers have erected a cordon and are advising people to keep back from the scene ahead of the whale's removal for a post-mortem.

"The whale was spotted in the past few weeks in the Firth of Forth near to the Fife coast and was believed to have had a buoy attached to it.

"There was no evidence of this buoy but it had been entangled by rope."

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