UPDATE: Stricken Hunstanton sperm whale dies despite huge effort to save helpless animal
Talks have begun on how the sperm whale which died on Hunstanton’s beach last night will be removed.
People are being urged to stay away from the area where the giant ocean animal beached until its remains are removed.
In a series of posts on its Twitter feed a short time ago, West Norfolk Council said: “Until it is removed, we advise you to put your own safety first. Don’t touch the whale, or allow your dog to touch it.
“Be aware that water quality could be affected and if you become unwell after using the water please seek medical advice.
“We do not encourage anyone to come and see the whale, but if you do, please be mindful of the tides.”
The authority also said shellfish from the area should not be collected for personal consumption.
Hopes that the whale could be rescued faded late yesterday afternoon after it failed to move off during the period of high tide.
The area around the stricken animal is being cordoned off in order to keep the public at a safe distance.
Nigel Croasdale, general manager of the resort’s Sea Life Sanctuary, said: “It’s a very sad tale. It’s just a case of waiting for nature to take its course. You can almost feel its life ebbing away.”
Earlier, rescuers poured water over the whale – the second of its type to come ashore in a fortnight – to keep its blow hoist moist until the high tide came in, even though its survival hopes looked bleak.
Holly Stephenson, from the sanctuary, said: “It really has been a massive team and community effort to try to get the whale back out to sea.
“The Coastguard were the first ones on the scene and they have been a massive assistance.
“They have been helping us to carry buckets of water in an effort to keep the whale wet, while we’ve also had British divers on the scene.
“It’s a positive sign that it is breathing, but the prognosis is very poor as you don’t know how much internal damage it may have suffered.”
Around 50 onlookers watched the rescue efforts take place.
The Coastguard received reports at 7.34am on Thursday from a member of the public who had spotted the animal and cordoned off the scene.
The whale, reported to 14m in length and is male, was located about one-and-a-half miles north east of the Le Strange Hotel..
Staff from Hunstanton Sealife Centre attended the scene and asked people to stay away.
Manager Nigel Croasdale said: “We are not at this stage expecting a successful result so I would advise people to stay away.”
Stephen Marsh from Marine Life Rescue Uk says this is now the 30th stranding to happen in Europe.
Mr Marsh said divers will not be heading out to the scene.
He said: “All we can hope is that nature does take its course and does not suffer to long. It is heartbreaking and we now have up to 30 in total in England, Holland and Germany.”
Two weeks ago a sperm whale beached in Old Hunstanton while four more washed up at Skegness and Wainfleet.
Four more whales from the same pod then died on beaches in and around Skegness in Lincolnshire.
The previous whale was removed from the beach last Friday and taken away to be incinerated.
West Norfolk Council, who are responsible for such removals, said the cost of that operation was in the region of £14,000.