A huge dead whale has been washed up on the banks of a British river and is now on its way to the Natural History Museum for examination. The 12-foot mammal was reported on Friday (January 6) after being found dead along the River Medway in Kent.
HM Coastguard was called to the scene and a rescue team from Sheppey arrived to investigate. Authorities were told about the carcass at around 4 pm on Friday and volunteers from the Isle of Sheppey also helped with the operation near Sittingbourne on Saturday.
A spokesman for Sheppey Coastguard Team said: "After the animals are reported we will then get help if they are alive. But, if they are sadly dead we fill out a form that needs measurements and particular information which is then sent on to the Natural History Museum. They then can come and see it if they wish to get more information."
When any whales, dolphins, porpoises and certain fish are discovered they must be reported to HM Coastguard, whether they are dead or alive, as they are classed as ‘royal fish’. The animal’s discovery comes two years after a sperm whale died when it became stranded in the Thames estuary. The whale’s body was seen just off of the Sheppey shoreline.
An endangered sei whale was also found dead in the same estuary, when it was found floating in the Thames off Gravesend, Kent, in 2019. But there was a happier ending for ‘Benny the Beluga’, who hit the headlines with his unexpected visit to the Thames in September 2018.
He swam around the Gravesend area of the River Thames for months as there was plenty of food available in the estuary waters - capturing the attention of the world’s media. He is believed to have finally headed home in January 2019 after his presence sparked a surge in visitors to the area and worldwide fame.
Last November pictures appeared to show a whale on the English Channel off St Margaret’s Bay near Dover, Kent. The creature seemed to be heading towards nearby Ramsgate. And just last month a minke whale had been seen swimming inside Dover Harbour, the second such sighting off the Kent coast in a week.
In October 2019 a humpback whale nicknamed Hessy by locals was seen on the Thames near Dartford but was killed in a collision with a ship a few days later. It is not yet known what type of whale the latest discovery was, or the circumstances of its death.