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Warning to stay away from ‘distressing scene’ as whales stranded in East Yorkshire

Written by on 24 December 2020

Fears are growing for a pod of 10 sperm whales stranded off the East Yorkshire coast.

Members of the coastguard and British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) were called to the beach between Tunstall and Withernsea at 8.30am on Thursday to help the mammals.

A group of four are thought to still be alive but in a poor condition. However, there is no rescue operation currently under way due to bad weather and rough seas.

Image:
The pod has been beached on a stretch of coastline between the villages of Tunstall and Withernsea

At least two of the animals have been washed up on the beach, where their chances of surviving are slim.

A BDMLR spokeswoman said: “The number of whales currently stranded is 10. They are in shallow water and four have been confirmed still alive.

“We believe it to be a pod of juvenile males, all in very poor nutritional condition. Due to the current weather conditions and rough seas, our team will remain on land observing from a safe distance.

“Due to the size of the sperm whale – males reaching around 20 metres long and weighing up to 80 tonnes – it’s not possible to move these animals once stranded, and due to their size, they rarely survive long once on land.”

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The BDMLR said the North Sea is a difficult environment for sperm whales as the shallow water has few of the deep-water squids they usually feed on.

A spokeswoman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said they had been called by a member of the public who spotted the whales on the shoreline.

Handout photo issued by British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDLMR) showing one of group of whales which have been beached on a stretch of coastline between the villages of Tunstall and Withernsea in East Yorkshire.
Image:
There is no rescue operation currently under way due to bad weather

Police have warned the public to stay away.

Humberside Police Chief Superintendent Darren Downs said: “I understand the public interest in the incident, but I would urge people to stay away from the area to allow the teams from HM Coastguard to manage what is an extremely distressing scene.

“I would also remind people that there is a risk to themselves and others as crowds gather to witness the scene. The COVID-19 pandemic remains a high risk to public health, people should not gather in groups as there is a danger of transmission amongst the crowds.”