Minke whale found on Northumberland beach dies

Minke whale The female whale was found in Druridge Bay at about 07:00 BST

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A female 26ft (8m) minke whale has been put down after it was stranded on a North Sea beach in Northumberland.

Experts from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDLMR) charity went to her aid when she was found in Druridge Bay at about 07:00 BST.

A vet was also called out and the whale was assessed as being too thin to be returned to the sea.

Veterinary surgeon Sam Prescott said: "The most humane thing to do was going to be euthanasia."

First stranding

Mr Prescott added: "Myself and other vets have now done that and it's now a case of salvaging the whale and making it available for post-mortem.

The petite great whale

  • There are two species of Minke whale - the northern (or common) minke whale and the Antarctic minke whale
  • Minke are the world's most hunted whale species. Japan targets 950 per year for its research programme, while commercially, Norway issues quotas to hunt about 1,000 per year
  • At up to 10m (35ft) in length, Minke are the smallest "great whales"
  • This group of species comprises the large baleen whales, so-called because they filter food through a comb-like structure in their mouths made of a substance called baleen

"We don't know yet what's caused it. It's an adult whale and its condition is not fantastic and it may well have been sick prior to stranding.

"I've not encountered a minke whale stranding in this area at all before."

After treatment, the "massively underweight" female whale was put to sleep because of its condition.

Earlier, BDMLR operations director Stephen Marsh said that they would not attempt to refloat the whale.

"It is too thin, it hasn't got any muscle on it at all, and the last thing we do is put an animal back in the sea that's likely to suffer and come back again," he said from the charity's headquarters in Uckfield, East Sussex.

Minke whales are found in the North Sea and, although they prefer shallow waters, are usually seen about 190km (118 miles) from shore.

A team of marine experts are on their way to the area to carry out a post-mortem examination of the animal.

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