On Tuesday 2 May at approximately 2pm, we received an alert that there was a large cetacean very close to shore at Bridlington, East Yorkshire. The animal was moving very slowly and was not close enough for identification but from its size, initial thoughts were that it could be a sperm whale, as one had stranded recently in Lincolnshire. Bridlington Coastguard and Humberside Police arrived on scene to help, setting up a cordon to keep the public at a safe distance and to give British Divers Marine Life Rescue Medics space to observe the whale as it came closer to shore. Eventually with the tide falling we were able to confirm identification as a fin whale, the second largest cetacean after the blue whale, and a very rare find in the North Sea.
As the whale became stranded on the sand, it became very agitated and the Medics were able to see visible trauma on several parts of its body, shortly after that the whale took a final breath and passed away. The whale was measured at 17.6 metres, which would indicate it was a young animal, and was in very poor nutritional condition, consistent with being out of habitat.
Fin whales can reach up to around 18-20 meters and can weigh over 70 tonnes, unfortunately cetaceans of this size can’t be manually returned to sea, and there are currently no humane methods of euthanasia.
If you ever come across a stranded whale or dolphin, please do not approach and call BDMLR immediately on our 24/7 rescue hotline: 01825 765546.
We’d like to thank our Marine Mammal Medics for attending, and especially Bridlington Coastguard and Humberside Police for their assistance in protecting the whale in its last moments.
Cover photo credit: Steph Sykes