TF6741 : Dead sperm whale, Hunstanton - 08

taken 7 years ago, near to Old Hunstanton, Norfolk, Great Britain

Dead sperm whale, Hunstanton - 08
Dead sperm whale, Hunstanton - 08
Dead sperm whale, Hunstanton - January 2016 Richard Humphrey

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Five young male sperm whales became stranded and eventually died in The Wash over the same weekend. Four were found on the Lincolnshire side and this one died near the wreck of a trawler, The Sheraton, which ran aground at the foot of the cliffs at Hunstanton almost 70 years ago, see this historic photo, Link. Twelve other dead whales were found on the coasts of Germany and Holland and are all thought to have been part of the same all male pod.
Sperm whales are deep-sea mammals that tend to live and hunt at a depth of around 3,000m. While females and their young stick to the tropics, males range further afield and are regularly spotted around Iceland, Norway and Shetland.
However, they quickly run into trouble if they enter the North Sea. This is because it lies on the European continental shelf, where the seafloor is only 200m down at its deepest point.
Sperm whales rely on sonar to navigate. They send out sound pulses, which bounce back off distant surfaces, helping them to form a clear picture of their underwater world. This doesn't work on a shallow sandy seabed, like Britain's, and whales quickly become disorientated
"The pod probably followed a shoal of squid into the North Sea around the New Year and then got stuck," says Peter Evans, director of The SeaWatch Foundation.
As they head south the water becomes shallower. Once they end up on a sand bank it's all over for the whale. It causes cardiovascular collapse and their organs start failing."
Andrew Brownlow, from the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme, went across to perform an autopsy on one of the whales stranded off the Netherlands.
"The whales were in good condition and so hadn't died from dehydration, which can happen as they get all their water from their food," he says. "We were also able to rule out a boat strike or entanglement, which is a common cause of strandings."
"But we weren't able to look at the brains so we can't rule out various illnesses, or a sudden noise that scared them." BBC

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TF6741, 387 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Monday, 25 January, 2016   (more nearby)
Tuesday, 26 January, 2016
Geographical Context
Primary Subject of Photo
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TF 6747 4197 [10m precision]
WGS84: 52:56.9385N 0:29.4719E
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TF 6750 4198
View Direction
West-southwest (about 247 degrees)
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Whale  Dead Whale  Beach  Rocks  Norfolk  Cliffs  Wave-Cut Platform 

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