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  1. Updates on Thursday, 4 February 2016

Live Reporting

By Caroline Kingdon

All times stated are UK

Get involved

'Very sad' to confirm whale's death

British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) said the whale died shortly after 20:00. 

It had been stranded at Hunstanton since this morning. 

Stephen Marsh, operations manager at the BDMLR, said: "We're very sad to confirm that the whale has died but it is a bit of a relief because it had been in quite a lot of suffering."

Our live coverage resumes from 08:00 on Friday.

BreakingLate update: Stranded whale has died

We've just heard that the whale has died. More follows.

Whale coverage through the day

David Keller

BBC News

That's the end of today's live page. Thanks for joining us for live coverage of the rescue effort to save a beached whale in Hunstanton. See how the day developed by scrolling below.

We'll bring you the latest developments in the morning from 08:00, along with live updates of rest of the news, sport, travel and weather for Norfolk.

Have a good night.

Your photos of the Hunstanton whale

The story of the beached whale in Hunstanton, told through the photographs sent in by Terry Harris.

Beached Hunstanton whale
Terry Harris
Beached Hunstanton whale
Terry Harris
Beached Hunstanton whale
Terry Harris
Beached Hunstanton whale
Terry Harris

Hunstanton sand 'suction' traps beached whales

Beached whales face a near impossible battle getting back into the sea at Hunstanton because of the suction produced by the sand, an expert from Anglia Ruskin University has said.                

Ben Garrod said the weight of the latest mammal combined with the fine sandy sediment meant it could not move, and its wriggling would only make matters worse. 

He showed BBC Look East's Mike Liggins how much suction the Hunstanton sand produces.          

First beached whale removed by council

Of course, this isn't the first whale to wash up on the Norfolk coast in recent weeks...

The final remains of the 30ft (9.1m) giant sperm whale carcass that washed up in Hunstanton at the end of January were removed from the beach last Friday and taken to an incinerator.

Whale removed from beach
Kate Dunbar

Tide heads out at site of whale stranding

The tide is on its way out at Old Hunstanton where the sperm whale is stranded.

According to tide tables, low water at Hunstanton is at 21:13 with the next high tide not due until 03:21 tomorrow.

That is unlikely to help the stricken creature, however: experts warn that its chances of survival are very low indeed.

Sperm whales in numbers

Sperm whale graphic

At the scene: People still arriving

Leigh Milner

BBC Look East

People are still arriving here to catch a quick glimpse of the whale. A cordon has been put in place.

Leigh Milner

You can see bright lights on the beach and they are rescue teams who will be monitoring the whale throughout the night.

They told me an animal of this size can't be euthanised. Only nature can take its course.

Stranded whale expected to die within 24 hours

Rob Deaville, project manager at the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme, said the stricken bull whale was expected to die within the next 24 hours.

He said the number of recent strandings was "unprecedented" in his 20 years' experience.

"Obviously what has brought them into the North Sea in the first place is a question everyone wants to answer but that will take many weeks to months to try to address," he said.

Hunstanton whale 'responded to my voice'

BBC Radio Norfolk

A woman, who wishes to be known as Alison, has told the BBC she was alone on the beach with the sperm whale which beached near Hunstanton early this morning.

Alison said she didn't report finding the whale, and claimed that it responded when she spoke to it.

Its mouth was completely open and it closed it as much as it could... I thought it was dead but after I was speaking to it, it started to breathe again."


Hunstanton whale: How other media are reporting the story

Here's a round-up of how some other media outlets are reporting the story:

Watch: Sea water engulfs beached whale

Rescuers say a sperm whale which washed up on the beach at Old Hunstanton earlier today is unlikely to swim back out to sea. 

The high tide, at 14:50, engulfed the bull whale, but rescuers say the mammal is unlikely to survive.               

Watch: Rescuers battle to save whale

Attempts to rescue a sperm whale which beached at Old Hunstanton have been filmed by Gary Pearson.

The whale was spotted on Thursday morning and the UK Coastguard was called. The creature became partially submerged by water at 14:30 when the tide came in but experts warned that it might be too late to save it.

It's the second whale to beach on the north Norfolk coast in the space of a fortnight.                       

Sperm whale strandings timeline

Today's events at Old Hunstanton are the latest in a series of sperm whale strandings over the past fortnight. Here's how events have unfolded:

Beached whale under cloudy skies

BBC cameraman Shaun Whitmore captured this photo of the stranded whale on the beach before the tide came in.

Whale on beach

Whale strandings 'largest episode in England for a century'

Expert Ben Garrod said the events of the last two weeks represented "the largest sperm whale stranding episode in England in the last hundred years".

Rescuers stand at the water's edge as waves engulf the whale
Gary Pearson

Other whales have been washed up at Skegness and on the German and Dutch coasts.

He said: "The ones that have been dissected from mainland Europe have had very, very empty stomachs. They are exhausted anyway and they come into these very shallow waters in The Wash and by the time they start to beach themselves they are in a cardiovascular collapse.

"By the time they start to wash up, they are in big trouble anyway."

Whale's ordeal 'like running marathons and getting stuck in treacle'

Evolutionary biologist Ben Garrod is a TV broadcaster and lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge and has been at the scene of the whale stranding.

He said: "Everyone wants the whale to be ok, but it’s effectively you doing two or three marathons and then getting stuck in treacle.

Ben Garrod

"This thing has no energy left anyway and it is now stranded, going through massive bodily trauma. Its chances are very, very slim." 

Hunstanton whale: 'No longer a rescue attempt'

Rescuers say the sperm whale which washed up on a north Norfolk beach earlier today is unlikely to swim back out to sea during high tide.

The high tide, which arrived at 14:50, covered the whale but so far it has been unable to move.

Sea water covering the whale
Jemma Greef

Kieran Copeland, from the Hunstanton Sealife Sanctuary, who's been helping with the rescue attempt, said: "Possible internal injuries meant the whale was unlikely to survive... their main focus was on keeping it comfortable."