Why a 32ft sperm whale washed up on Porth Neigwl beach

Experts who assessed carcass identified it as a female sperm whale Credit: Daily Post Wales

A whale carcass which was found washed up on a North Wales beach was underweight and in poor condition, experts have said.

Initial reports suggested the adult female sperm Whale was still alive but died soon after on the pebbles of Porth Neigwl (Hell’s Mouth) on the Llŷn Peninsula.A high tide prevented rescuers reaching the beached whale when it was first discovered on Monday morning.

But a team from British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) were eventually able to assess the sperm whale as an adult female, which measured about 10m (32ft) long and weighed around 10 tonnes.

The sperm whale about 10m (32ft) long and weighed around 10 tonnes Credit: Daily Post Wales

BDMLR medics noted the whale was in “incredibly poor body condition”.Experts from the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme were also called to the scene. They said the whale was very underweight and appeared not to have eaten for some time.Cyngor Gwynedd Council is working with coastguards to remove the carcass once the port-mortem - due to be carried out on the beach on Wednesday - is completed.

A BDMLR spokesperson said: “We received a report of a live stranded large whale in North Wales around 8am on Monday, May 8.

“BDMLR marine mammal medics attended to monitor and assess the animal. They identified it to be a sperm whale but, due to the high tide preventing safe access, they had to observe from a distance.“As the tide retreated, it became clear that the whale had passed away. We recommend the public to avoid the area until the carcass has been removed.”

A 12ft bottlenose dolphin was also found on the same beach. BDMLR do not think the two deaths are related other than being carried by the same currents that earned the beach its English name of “Hell’s Mouth”.

The beached whale was sighted on Porth Neigwl beach on the south coast of the Llyn Peninsula on Monday morning. Credit: Daily Post Wales

In 2019 a sperm whale washed up on Porth Neigwl, a beach popular with surfers. An autopsy later found it had plastic sheeting and knotted rope in its stomach.Saddened by the latest casualty, a local man said on social media: “I hope they dispose of the body parts after the autopsy is over. Last time the blubber was still on the beach for many, many months. The same conditions that trap litter on the beach, also traps blubber.”Monday’s beaching follows the discovery of a dead minke whale on North Berwick beach in East Lothian on Sunday morning.Since March, BDMLR has also dealt with whale strandings at Bridlington, Cleethorpes and Orkney. However the group does not believe whale strandings are becoming more common.

Abersoch Coastguard Rescue Team has urged people not to approach the whale. It said any contact could “impair the valuable results to be gained from a full autopsy”.