WHALE UPDATE: Dead whales are moved to Central Beach in Skegness
TUESDAY 2.15pm: Work is underway to unite the three dead sperm whales in Skegness on Central Beach.
A spokesman for East Lindsey District Council – the authority responsible for the removal of the carcasses – said the one that had beached at Lagoon Walk had moved in the tides overnight and was now covered in sand to stop it moving again.
The others are being towed and pushed with a bulldozer from Gibraltar Point to Central Beach, ready for disposal.
TUESDAY 11AM: Autopsies have now been completed on three of the four whales that washed up along the coast near Skegness.
An officer from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is working with the coastguard to gain access to the fourth whale on former MOD land in Wainfleet, but it is proving difficult.
A spokesman for the ZSL said initial tests have shown the whales to be juvenile males. He said: “Their stomach’s were empty and the indications are the whales came into the North Sea by mistake and the water was too shallow to feed.”
Now the autopsies in Skegness are complete, East Lindsey District Council is finalising plans for the removal of the carcasses.
A spokesman said: “All necessary permissions for the removal are now in place from partner organisations and the council will be arranging to bring in contractors in the next few days.
“Whilst it is important the removal is done quickly, it’s also important that it is done properly and that’s the council’s focus.”
UPDATE MONDAY PM: A fourth dead whale has been washed up on the beach near Skegness, taking the number found along the east coast to five.
The whale, thought to be from the same pod as those found at the weekend, was discovered by a member of public, five miles south of Skegness where one was washed up on Saturday and two more beached on Sunday.
Another whale was found on Hunstanton beach on Friday night.
Coastguard teams are monitoring the situation and keeping the general public away from the whales in the interests of safety
The whale in Wainfleet was spotted by a member of public this afternoon.
A spokeswoman for the Maritime & Coastguard Agency said: “We can confirm there is a fifth whale and it is in Wainfleet. We have informed our Receiver of Wreck and the Zoological Society of London.”
It is believed to be not easily accessible and on Ministry of Defence (MOD) land and is not expected to be dealt with by the local authority.
UPDATE MONDAY 11.50AM: Crowds gathering on the beach in Skegness as the autopsies get underway on the three dead sperm whales have been shocked to see one of them graffitied with the letters CND and a peace symbol.
The word “fukishima” has also been sprayed on a whale’s back.
Police visited the scene but are not looking for the culprits.
A spokesman said: “It’s a terrible thing for someone to do, but there wouldn’t be an actual criminal offence.
“Graffiti is normally criminal damage but the whales don’t belong to anyone so unless the graffiti was very offensive and constituted a public order offence, there would be no offences.”
Distressing scenes have been taking place on Skegness beach as the autopsies get underway.
Witnesses said maritime biologists were using a probe when there was a “huge blast of air”.
UPDATE 9.45AM: Crowds were again gathering this morning as the confirmation was given that the whales had not been alive when they came ashore.
James Gilbert, tourism manager, said: “The council is further developing its plans to remove the three sperm whales from Skegness beach.
“It has been confirmed that the whales were dead when they came ashore. It is also believed that the whales are from the same pod as the one recently stranded at Norfolk and there are possible links to strandings in Germany and the Netherlands in recent weeks.
“The council is working with HM Coastguard and the Zoological Society, with the society undertaking a post moterm examination on the carcasses.”
It could be a few days before the council is able to remove the whales due to the need to be granted formal consent to do so. This will, however, be done as quickly as possible.
Members of the public wishing to view the whales are asked not to go through the cordon.
The council says it has “well-rehearsed plans” for dealing with such situations, having dealt with a number of strandings in recent years.
The most recent was in 2012, when a sperm whale weighing around 30 tonnes was beached just north of Skegness Pier.
UPDATE SUNDAY 6.20PM: Three whales found dead on a beach near Skegness may have fallen victim to stress after they “got lost”, according to a maritime expert.
Sam Rees of Skegness Aquarium was commenting after the discovery of the 48ft sperm whales which are still lying dead on a beach at Gibraltar Point this evening.
A team from Humber Coastguard station cordoned off the area as crowds of people came to see the whales which will be removed by East Lindsey District Council once tests have been carried out on the mammals.
Another whale was found on Hunstanton beach on Friday nught and Mr Rees said: “It’s a very unusual situation and one we don’t really find happening so close to each other.
“The general consensus is that it’s a pod (group of whales) that has got lost and they’ve become unstuck through stress meaning that, unfortunately, they have beached themselves.”
Photographs and a video of the scene at Gibraltar Point have been taken today by Skegness Standard photographer David Dawson and reader Lee Swift.
UPDATE SUNDAY 1.10PM: Warning of more sperm whales washing ashore near Skegness
Coastguard teams are on alert after the prospect was raised of more sperm whales being washed up on a beach near Skegness today.
The warning comes after three 48ft whales were found on a beach at Gibraltar Point overnight, attracting crowds of onlookers.
Humber Coastguard and East Lindsey District Council have put together a team that has cordoned off the area until scientists from London arrive to take samples from the whales.
They have been linked to another whale found dead on Hunstanton beach on Friday, but a Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesman said: “It is unknown where the rest of the pod (group) are at this stage”.
SUNDAY 11.50AM: Three sperm whales found dead near Skegness beach
A trio of sperm whales have been found dead on a beach near Skegness during the weekend, with coastguard teams guarding their bodies.
The mammals were found washed up on Saturday after which coastguard rescue teams from Skegness and Chapel St Leonards were called out to cordon off the area.
A Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) spokesman said the whales were believed to be from the same pod or group as another whales found dead on Hunstanton beach on Friday.
The MCA spokesman said: “HM Coastguard are advising members of the public to stay away from three dead sperm whales that washed up on the beach near Skegness.
“A Nature Reserve Warden in the area alerted HM Coastguard when he found two dead sperm whales, approximately 48ft in length, yesterday evening at around 8.30pm and a third dead whale has been found washed up this morning.
“The whales are believed to be from the same pod as the whale that died on Hunstanton beach on 22 January and it is unknown where the rest of the pod are at this stage.
“Members of the public are being advised by HM Coastguard to stay away from the three whales whilst they remain on the beach.”
Richard Johnson of UK Coastguard said: “We believe that the three whales at Skegness died at sea and then washed ashore.
“We are advising members of the public to stay away from the beach and we have informed the Receiver of Wreck.
“We are expecting an officer from the Zoological Society of London to attend the scene and carry out tests on the whales.”
Under maritime law, protection is provided for wrecks that are designated as dangerous because of their contents or nature which are administered by the Receiver of Wreck through the MCA.
The ultimate responsibility for clearing the beach rests with East Lindsey District Council whose spokesman said: “The council is aware that three whales were washed ashore this morning on Skegness beach on the 6.30am tide.
“The council is arranging for the whales to be cordoned off and, as is usual procedure when this type of event occurs, the council must make contact with the relevant authorities to check whether they wish to review the carcasses.
“Once this is known, the council can arrange for their removal which is likely to take a few days.”
BREAKING NEWS SUNDAY 10.10AM: Whales washed up off beach in Skegness
There are reports this morning that three whales have been found washed up on the beach in Skegness, one of them this morning.
The mammals, all believed to be sperm whales with one about 50ft in length, were discovered near to lifeguard huts on the beach of the coastal resort.
Two of the whales were found yesterday and a third one today, with coastguard teams keeping passers-by away from the area.
Mike Poplett, watch manager for Humber Coastguard, said that his teams were “monitoring the situation” and scientists from the Natural History Museum in London had already been to the scene to carry out investigations into how and why the whales came to be found there.
“Three sperm whales have been found on the beach at Skegness, two of which were found yesterday and a further one today,” Mr Poplett said.
“Coastguard teams are monitoring the situation and keeping the general public away from the whales in the interests of safety.
“Scientists from the National History Museum in London, who have an avid interest in this type of event, have come down and taken samples in order to find out why these events happen worldwide.
“But at this stage, we don’t know how and why the whales got there.”
Mr Poplett also confirmed that another whale had been found washed up on Hunstanton Beach yesterday which has since died.
A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesman said the large Bull Sperm whale, reported to be 40-45ft long and weighing about 30 tonnes, had “beached itself” and died on Hunstanton Beach on Friday night.
Richard Johnson of UK Coastguard said: “We cordoned off the area for an officer from the Zoological Society of London to inspect the animal and carry out tests.
“It was obviously a very distressing scene and we would ask the public to stay away from the beach.”