Dead whale washed up on Felixstowe beach was one of three which died off Suffolk coast
PUBLISHED: 19:57 21 May 2017 | UPDATED: 21:09 21 May 2017
A dead whale washed up at Felixstowe beach was one of a group of three whales which off the Suffolk coast this weekend, it has been confirmed.
Large crowds have been gathering around a 40ft adult minke whale washed up on Felixstowe beach between the pier and Mannings Amusement Park. It came to rest against some large rocks but is moving slowly towards the pier due to the tide and wind. A cordon has been put up in place.
There were earlier reports that a second baby whale was found dead in the River Ore in Orford and sightings of another group of three whales out at sea.
A Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) spokesman has cleared up the situation, confirming that there was a group of three minke whales which died off the Felixstowe coast this weekend. One adult minke washed up at Felixstowe Beach, a baby minke washed up in a wildlife reserve in the River Ore at Orford, and the third, another adult minke, died 20 miles out at sea from Felixstowe, which is not in danger of drifting to the shore.
The spokesman said: “All three have been accounted for.” There are no reports of any other injured or dead whales in the area.
It is not known how each one died, although there are reports they may have suffered injuries, either before or after they died.
It is very likely that the 40ft adult minke still at Felixstowe beach will not be removed until Monday, the MCA spokesman said. It is standard procedure for the whale to be removed in a lorry, rather than being towed around 20 miles out to sea, as earlier suggested.
One onlooker today, Felixstowe fisherman Rory Stankiewicz, 32, said: “It’s a shame for the poor old thing. It must weight over a tonne, maybe two.
“I’ve been fishing here for 23 years and have never seen anything like it. It is very unusual.”
Another, Alan Hunt, 65, from Ipswich, said: “It looks like it has been hit by a propeller, but it could have been natural causes. It looks like it’s been dead a long time and probably drifted miles. I’m surprised it’s not already started to smell bad.”
The MCA first received a report of the Felixstowe beached whale “floating out at sea” at around 2pm on Saturday. It washed up on the beach at around 7pm.
Coastguards at the scene are waiting for a decision from the Receiver of Wreck, an MCA official, for the next action to take. A British Divers Marine Life Rescue spokesman said it was not uncommon for small groups of minke to be swimming off the Suffolk coast.
The spokesman said: “They are quite abundant in the North Sea. There is often quite good feeding out there.
“The Orford one was a juvenile. There is a rumour that one of them which died possibly due to a ship strike. Until anyone has been out to both, we can’t tell.”
Other common reasons behind whales deaths include poor hydration, not feeding properly, natural causes, and disease.
Asked why the whale may have washed up at Felixstowe beach, she added: “A lot of them will just go to the bottom. But the closer to the shore they are, the more chance of them floating ashore. If it is filled with gases, it won’t sink.”
The MCA is receiving support from the Felixstowe Coast Patrol Rescue Service, Suffolk Constabulary and Suffolk Coastal District Council, which will be in charge of the operation to remove the Felixstowe whale, the MCA spokesman said.
The Felixstowe Coast Patrol Rescue Service spokesman said: “The whale washed up last night at Felixstowe is the same whale seen floating in the Harwich approaches earlier on Saturday.
“The second whale is a baby calf. This has been washed up along the River Ore at Orford and the Shingle St Coastguard team are dealing with this.”
The service added on its Facebook page: “A very sad day for marine mammals. A marvellous pair, such a loss to the ocean life. Such amazing mammals.”