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Dead 40ft fin whale washes up on Norfolk beach

The Independent logo The Independent 21/10/2016 Alexandra Sims

A 40ft-long fin whale has washed up on the Norfolk coast.

The mammal was already dead when it was carried to shore at the picturesque Holkham beach on Thursday afternoon.

A spokesperson for the Holkham Estate said the beach is still open, but visitors are warned to keep away from the whale's body.

The carcass will stay on the beach overnight, she confirmed.

The death comes after a string of whale strandings along the UK coast this year, with dozens more dying in other parts of the North Sea.

The Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme, which examines all whale, dolphin and porpoise strandings in the UK, will carry out a post-mortem on the whale.

The Holkham Estate spokeswoman said: "On Thursday afternoon, a dead 40ft fin whale was washed up on Holkham Beach, part of Holkham National Nature Reserve, on the north Norfolk coast.

"Wardens from the reserve have reported the whale to the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) who hope to carry out a post-mortem to establish cause of death.

"Plans are in place to remove the whale from the beach. Holkham Beach remains open but we advise the public not to venture close to the carcass and to keep dogs on leads."

Investigations are still on-going into a number of whale strandings that took place around the Norfolk and Lincolnshire coasts earlier this year, including one that later “exploded” in Skegness, and another that washed up near Wainfleet, Lincolnshire.

Dr Peter Evans, director of the Sea Watch Foundation, said: “This kind of thing happens periodically as sperm whales congregate in social cohesive groups which we call pods and often strand together”.

“They feed principally on squid and what has probably happened is that one or more of the shoals of squid have entered the North Sea from the Atlantic and the whales followed them, fed upon them, and then maybe ran out of food.”

Other theories say the whales may have come too close to shore while migrating from polar regions to warmer water in search of mates.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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