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Whale stuck to ship at Sheerness docks

By John Nurden

First it was Greenpeace protestors. Now Sheerness docks has had an unexpected visit from a whale.

The body of what is thought to be a 25-feet long pilot whale was found stuck to the bow of the 49,000-tonne car transporter American Highway as it arrived.

Dad-of-three Jack Smedley, 25, of Yarrow Drive, Minster, was working for Sheerness firm Medway Marine and Shipping Services when he had the surprise call to remove the whale.

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Jack Smedley and the whale carcass he and his crew brought into Sheerness docks

Jack Smedley and the whale carcass he and his crew brought into Sheerness docks

He said: “It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s not the type of job you expect to end up doing on Sheppey.”

Veteran dockworkers have told him there have only been three whales found in the harbour over the past 50 years.

Skipper Peter Sands guided the Mabel 6 mooring boat into position while Jack, a scaffolder by trade, lassoed the whale’s fin with rope.

VIDEO: Amazing footage shows huge whale being towed in at Sheerness

He said: “We did it with as much respect as possible but we had to get it out of a busy channel before it caused a danger to shipping.

"It seemed to have been hooked over the bulbous bow of the car carrier. I have no idea how it got there.”

It took the crew an hour to tow the whale into the safety of the harbour.

Jack Smedley and Peter Sands towing the body of the whale

Jack Smedley and Peter Sands towing the body of the whale

Jack, who is a member of the Island’s RNLI volunteer crew, said: “It was obviously dead and slowly inflating.

"When I was at the lifeboat station on Sunday stuff suddenly blew out of the whale’s blowhole. It was a terrible stench.”

It is believed the creature was a long-finned pilot whale. They are common around the UK especially along the English Channel in the winter.

Despite its name, the pilot whale is a member of the dolphin family.

It is the second largest dolphin species in the world. Male pilot whales can grow up to 20ft. Females are smaller.

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