Sperm whale mass stranding, Yorkshire

news-Tunstall-24th Dec 2020

At around 8.30am on Thursday 24th December we received information from HM Coastguard that 7 large animals, presumed to be whales, were stranding on the East Yorkshire coast between Tunstall and Withernsea in East Yorkshire. At around 9am, two were confirmed to have stranded with an unknown number further off-shore.

BDMLR sent a team of Marine Mammal Medics with rescue equipment to the scene to identify and monitor the situation as it unfolded. The animals were identified as sperm whales, the largest of the toothed whales, which are usually found in deep, off-shore waters and can dive up to 2000 meters in search of food, which is mostly large or medium-sized squid which is not abundant in the North Sea.

The number of whales currently stranded is ten, they are in shallow water and four have been confirmed still alive, we believe it to be a pod of juvenile males, all in very poor nutritional condition. Due to the current weather conditions and rough seas, our team will remain on land observing from a safe distance.

Due to the size of the sperm whale, males reaching around 20 meters long and weighing up to 80 tonnes, it’s not possible to move these animals once stranded, and due to their size they rarely survive long once on land.

Photo Credit: Emily Mayman