Kent, 15 oktober 2015 – The CSIP – Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme- UK strandings –
carried out a field necropsy last night on a whale that had stranded at Botany Bay, just east of Margate in Kent. A floating whale had been sighted north of the Kent coastline a few days earlier and it is likely that this was the same individual.
The stranded whale was identified as a juvenile female fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus, national reference SW2015/359) by the CSIP and was approximately 10.8m long- the tail flukes and part of the tail were missing and had been excised from the rest of the body. Several deep, parallel, linear and diagonal incisions were noted on the right and ventral aspect of the remaining portion of the tail. The carcass was generally pale and had a ‘bled out’ appearance.
Although most of the gastrointestinal tract was missing, we did find bile staining in the remaining portion of the intestine, which might indicate a recent lack of feeding and could be consistent with the whale’s presence in the relatively abnormal habitat for this species of the southern North Sea.
The damage to the tail was considered to be consistent with trauma following impact from propellor blades. Although it wasn’t possible to conclusively determine that the whale was alive when struck, the observed pathology is most consistent with this and we have given the case a provisional cause of death of ‘possible ship strike’.
This is the fifth fin whale to be reported stranded on the Kent coast since the CSIP began investigating UK strandings in 1990. It is also the third reported stranding of a fin whale in the UK this year. The body has now been removed from the beach by Thanet council and taken for appropriate disposal.
Huge thanks to Thanet council for facilitating our access to the stranding and also to members of the local Coastguard for their much valued help onsite yesterday. Many thanks as well to the Receiver of Wreck, local police and Julia Cable, Steve Green and Gilli Graham of BDMLR.
foto credits: CSIP-ZSL and MCA