A sperm whale is feared to have died after being washed up on the east coast of England in Lincolnshire.
British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) was called at around 12.15pm on Good Friday to help with a ‘large beached whale’ on Cleethorpes beach, near Grimsby.
The Marine Mammal Response charity said the whale was spotted “standing in the water” around midday, but by the time it reached the beach it had washed ashore on its side.
Photos on social media show the large whale protruding from shallow water just off the beach.
A BDMLR spokesperson said: ‘The HM Coastguard and Cleethorpes beach safety team were able to obtain photographs to help us make a positive identification and keep the public safe in what may be a dangerous area .
“Unfortunately the tide was rising rapidly so there was no way for the BDMLR medics to safely access the whale, and she was soon underwater.
“The beach security team was able to show our doctors CCTV footage of the whale before it was submerged, and it appears to have died.”
The charity said it believed the whale was likely a male as “it is very rare for female sperm whales to be found this far north, with the only record of one in the UK being in 2016”.
They added: “Cachalots are the largest toothed whales reaching up to 16 meters in length and can hold their breath for up to 120 minutes as they dive for giant squid.”
The charity noted that ‘there have been a number of strandings on North Sea coasts over the years’.
The spokesperson added: “It appears that these animals find themselves outside of their normal habitat in these relatively shallow waters where they struggle to feed and find their way back, becoming malnourished and disoriented.
“Unfortunately, that means by the time they fail, if they’re alive, they’re often in poor health.”
He said the Cetacean Stranding Survey Program (CSIP), which is funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Devolved Administrations, has been informed of the incident.
The CSIP website says it coordinates the “investigation of all whales, dolphins and porpoises (collectively known as cetaceans), sea turtles and basking sharks that wash up along UK coastlines”.
The BDMLR spokesperson added: “Although the whale will likely change position over the next few hours, it is possible that it will return at the next low tide.
“It is very important that people keep away from the bodies of any deceased marine mammals as the reason for their stranding is not known and disease cannot be ruled out.”
A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said they were informed of the whale’s beaching just after midday.
“The Cleethorpes Coastguard Rescue Team have been dispatched with British Divers Marine Life Rescue. The whale refloated on the rising tide,” they added.
Cleethorpes Wildlife Rescue wrote on social media: “When we arrived British Divers Marine Life Rescue had just started heading towards the whale and wanted no help so our team pulled out while they continued his work.
“Thank you to the volunteers who came to help us.”