'Don't touch it' - Warning over sperm whale carcass
- Credit: Amy Christie
People have been warned against trying to touch a dead sperm whale on the north Norfolk coast.
The whale, which was believed to have been part of a pod of young males which got lost on its journey south, washed up at Sheringham on Tuesday, January 5.
Jerry Woodley, station officer at Sheringham Coastguard, said he understood people would be curious about the whale, but urged them not to try to touch it or let their dogs near it.
Mr Woodley said: "Dead mammals can be full of dangerous toxins and other things, so please stay away and keep dogs on a lead to prevent them coming into contact with them."
The Coastguard inspected the whale and sent photos, measurements and details to the National History Museum.
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Mr Woodley said this was done because dolphins, porpoises and whales were protected under royal fish laws and the Coastguard recorded the details on behalf of the Receiver of Wreck.
He said it was only about the fifth whale stranding he had been called out to in four decades of Coastguard work.
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Mr Woodley said if the carcass was not washed back out to sea, it would become the district council's responsibility to remove it, if it was a health issue.
Norfolk whale expert Carl Chapman said the whale was probably a part of a pod of young males that got lost in an attempt to find their way to breeding grounds in the mid-Atlantic.
It follows a number of other beachings of sperm whale in recent weeks, including young males that washed up at King's Lynn and Weybourne, and 10 more on the east Yorkshire coast.
Mr Chapman said the beachings had nothing to do with offshore wind farms or ingesting plastic, but had happened in this part of the world for thousands of years before becoming less common in the 20th century as whale numbers declined due to whaling.
He said: "They were probably part of the same pod of juvenile males that started into the North Sea and got into trouble. They were probably on their way down to more temperate latitudes, maybe to the waters near the Azores or the mid Atlantic."