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'Dehydration' probable cause of whale deaths

As an autopsy gets underway on the sixth sperm whale to become stranded on the British coast in the past fortnight, it has been suggested the whales are dying of dehydration.

Scientists take samples from a sperm whale which washed up on the Norfolk coast Credit: ITV News

Kevin Murphy, the Norfolk Coordinator for British Divers Marine Life Rescue told ITV News the shallow waters on the North Sea don't contain food for the whales, which are deep-sea diving creatures.

He also explained that the gruesome task of disposing of the mammal's carcass is the responsibility of the landowner who owns the private beach.

"It will be a very, very expensive job and a bit of a gruesome task", he says, adding that it must be done otherwise the whale will become an environmental hazard as it decomposes.

Post-mortem is carried out on dead sperm whale

Experts are trying to find out why the sperm whale died. Credit: ITV News

A post-mortem examination is being carried out on the sperm whale which was stranded on Hunstanton beach.

Rescue teams tried to save the animal but it died just after 8pm on Thursday night.

Stephen Marsh, operations manager at the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) said it was "a bit of a relief because it had been in quite a lot of suffering".

He added that work would now be carried out to establish the circumstances surrounding the beaching.

Tests will be now be carried out on the animal. Credit: ITV News

The whale is the sixth UK stranding in recent weeks and the 29th sperm whale to become stranded across Europe in the last fortnight.

One theory is the whales could have taken a wrong turn while trying to find females or have been lured by food.

Mr Marsh said the strandings, which happen naturally, could also be down to a rise in whale populations.

"We don't know if they were trying to migrate down to the tropics, and there's no sign yet of any man-made activity that would cause them to come in, but this is being investigated."

Sperm whale stranded on Norfolk beach dies

The stranded sperm whale at Hunstanton died shortly after 8pm, the British Divers Marine Life Rescue said.

The organisation said it was a "relief" as the whale had been suffering.

There will be a post-mortem examination on the whale in the morning.

Teams spent much of the day at the beach but said their main focus was making the whale comfortable as it had little chance of survival.

High tide arrived at 2.50pm, engulfing the whale but it was unable to move.

Even if it had returned to the sea, it was likely to become stranded again and would almost certainly die because of internal injuries suffered since coming ashore, the BDMLR added.

It is the sixth UK stranding in recent weeks and the 29th sperm whale to become stranded across Europe in the last two weeks.

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