Dead humpback confirmed as tangled Forth whale

A nine metre humpback whale found washed up on the beach at John Muir Country Park, Dunbar, East Lothian
A nine metre humpback whale found washed up on the beach at John Muir Country Park, Dunbar, East Lothian

A dead humpback whale tangled in ropes, which has washed up on a Forth beach, has been confirmed as the same mammal which rescuers had been trying to help.

The juvenile whale, which appears to only have died a few hours ago, was found on the beach at John Muir Country Park, Dunbar, on the southern side of the Forth.

The whale has been identified as the same one which watchers in Fife had been tracking.

The whale has been identified as the same one which watchers in Fife had been tracking.

Members of the Forth Marine Mammals (FMM) group, which watches the sea for any activity of whales, dolphins, or porpoises, have established that the carcass is that of the stricken whale pictured previously in the Forth.

No cause of death has been established but it is known that the nine metre whale had been tangled in rope for quite some time before it died.

The body was identifiable by the unique patterns on the tail fluke, which had previously been pictured and catalogued by FMM members back in February.

FMM’s Ronnie Mackie, said: “People are distraught. It’s very sad news after all of the effort that went in from everybody that was watching and looking out for it.

The whale had been dragging a buoy.

The whale had been dragging a buoy.

“It’s good that we have that fluke shot so that we know it’s the same whale and there’s not another one going about out there with ropes around it.”

However, despite the bad news, Ronnie said the watchers will continue to keep an eye out, and the Forth has already yielded a number of other giant mammals.

He said: “Even after we spotted that one we had something like four humpbacks, and a lot of minke whales recently too.”

The whale may be taken elsewhere for a post-mortem examination to be carried out.

A spokesman for East Lothian Council said: “It is nine metres long and considered to be a juvenile at that length.

“We don’t know the cause of death.

“It may well be towed to another site and possibly a post-mortem examination will be carried out.

“The level of decomposition is slight, it is considered to be relatively fresh so it probably died within the last two hours or so.

“There was a whale spotted in the Firth of Forth near Fife that appeared to have a buoy tangled up.

“This one appeared to have been tangled with some ropes.”

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