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Stranded whale dies on mud bank

2nd February 2006

A 30ft whale which became stranded in the Humber has died, coastguards said.
The immature sperm whale became stuck on mud off Kilnsea, on Spurn Point, East Yorkshire, on Saturday morning.

Local people raised the alarm and lifeboat crews, coastguards and firefighters all tried to help the stricken animal.

As the tide reached its lowest point in the afternoon the whale was virtually clear of the water.  Some reports said it had a large gash on its side.

Sperm Whales
The sperm whale is a toothed whale that lives in pods
It has a huge brain that weighs about 20 pounds
It is the largest brain of any animal
The fictional Moby Dick was a sperm whale
Adult males grow to be about 50-60 feet long
Sperm whales are carnivores that mostly eat giant squid  

A Humber Coastguard spokeswoman said arrangements were being made for the whale's carcass to be removed.

The local lifeboat crew and residents said the animal could be seen struggling to free itself before the water levels dropped.

Lifeboat coxswain Dave Steenvorden said the water was too shallow to launch his boat.

One Kilnsea resident said: "It just seems to have come up the estuary and got itself stuck.

"Mid morning it was moving around - flapping and trying to get itself free.  You could see it clearly, blowing from its air hole.

"Everyone came out to have a look but there's nothing much anyone could do.  It's quite sad really."


A crowd of people gathered close to watch the rescue attempts as expert teams travelled to the scene from around the country.

Among those assisting was the British Divers Marine Life Rescue organisation which was involved in the operation to release the whale stuck in the River Thames in central London last month.

The group said on its website that the whale in the Humber was female and had not been injured.

It said the whale's blowhole was about 2ft under the surface of the mud after it had dug itself in while thrashing around.

In 1997, two sperm whales became trapped in the Humber a short distance from Saturday's incident.


The sperm whale died on mud flats near Spurn Point
Photograph by BDMLR