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15ft whale washed up on welsh beach.

Byline: TYLER MEARS Reporter tyler.mears@walesonline.co.uk

ADEAD 15ft-long whale washed up on a West Wales beach on Christmas morning.

The cetacean, believed to be a minke whale, was discovered washed up on a beach at Ynyslas, near Aberdyfi and eight miles north of Aberystwyth, in Ceredigion.

A spokesman for HM Coastguard said: "We had reports about a whale washed up on shore yesterday, however due to the bad weather we were unable to remove it.

"If the whale had been alive the situation might have been different, but as I understand it the carcass is pretty badly decomposed. "Someone will be going down to have a look at it today.

"They take samples for analysis, measure it and sometimes they would take away the lower jaw to perform a bit of an autopsy.

"We do get whales washed up from time to time, but I wouldn't say it is a common occurrence."

Minke whales are part of the rorquals, a family which includes the humpback whale, the fin whale, the Bryde's whale, the sei whale and the blue whale.

Minke whales are often the focus of whale-watching cruises setting sail from the Isle of Mull in Scotland, County Cork in Ireland and Husavik in Iceland, and tours taken on the east coast of Canada.

They are also one of the most commonly sighted whales seen on whale-watches from New England and eastern Canada.

In recent years minke whales have been spotted off the Pembrokeshire coast, but sightings have been few and far between and mostly identified by people on charter boats well off the coast on trips specifically organised to spot and photograph unusual visitors or transients.

Wildlife officers for marine conservation group ORCA, who regularly survey the North Sea, saw a total of 39 minke whales in the sea between Britain and the Netherlands from March to September this year. At the beginning of October, a 36ft-long minke whale was found washed up on a beach in Kent after it was believed to have been hit by a passing ship.

A couple of days later another, a juvenile whale, washed up on the Norfolk coast and had to be removed by the council as it was located beneath a gas terminal site.

In November a 30ft Minke whale also washed up on Cleethorpes beach in Lincolnshire, but was later swept away by the tide.

The northern Minke measures an average of 24ft long, although maximum lengths vary between 30 and 35ft.

They weigh between 4.4 to 5.5 tons, although 11 tons has been recorded.

They are black, grey or purple in colour with white undersides and the northern species is distinguished by a white band on each flipper. They live for between 30 and 50 years, although 60 years has been recorded.

Minkes are identifiable from other whales by their size and the fact that when they dive they do not allow their flukes to break the surface. They are more commonly seen than other whales because they are quite inquisitive and will approach a passing boat.

Reports of stranded whales or dolphins should be made to the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme on 0800 652 0333.

If the animal is dead they advise people to avoid contact with it, unless they have the right protective clothing, such as thick rubber gloves, in order to prevent disease.

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People looking at the body of the whale washed up on a beach at Ynyslas, just north of Aberystwyth on the West Wales coast
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 27, 2015
Words:588
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