Whale stranded off Norfolk coast near Hunstanton

Whale at Hunstanton Image copyright Gary Pearson
Image caption Gary Pearson said the whale was about 80ft (24m) from the shore when he took this picture

Rescue teams have been attempting to save a stranded whale just off the Norfolk shore.

A group of at least four whales were seen north of Hunstanton during the afternoon, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) said.

An RNLI spokeswoman said its hovercraft had taken marine life experts to assess the whale which was still stuck in water with a depth of about 6ft (2m).

She said: "It looks quite injured and is in difficulty."

Image copyright Gary Pearson
Image caption The stranded whale was one of a group of at least four that had swum into shallow water north of Hunstanton
Image copyright Gary Pearson
Image caption It was feared the whale had got stuck on boulders that become exposed at low tide, as shown in this picture from 2013

Gary Pearson, who lives in Dersingham, saw the whales at about 16:00 GMT and said he was told they had been there for a couple of hours.

"Two had already got out to deeper water, but two were still in trouble and one got away when I was there," he said.

"The remaining one was thrashing around and in distress. It looks like an adult sperm whale to me and I wouldn't be surprised if it was 40ft [12m] long.

"It's probably stuck between these boulders covered in algae which you can see exposed at low tide."

Image copyright @schoolhousedigi
Image caption The RNLI hovercraft returned to shore by 18:00 GMT having been unable to free the whale
Image copyright Kate Dunbar
Image caption Crowds gathered in Hunstanton as coastguards try to help the stranded whale in darkness

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