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Kent whale: Sperm whale originally spotted in Whitstable found dead near Faversham

A 50ft-long sperm whale which found itself in Kent waters this week has died.

The marine mammal first hit headlines after being spotted off the coast near Whitstable on Thursday, before finding its way towards Harty Ferry, Faversham and the Isle of Sheppey.

Video shows the whale breaking the water's surface and spraying water in the air. Credit: Elliott Howes

On Thursday afternoon, the whale began swimming with the rising tide into The Swale - a tidal channel of the Thames estuary.

Sperm whales are deep water species not usually found around the UK, and experts said its chance of survival was just 1%.

Medics from marine animal charity the British Divers' Marine Life Rescue monitored the whale's movements and behaviour, but have now confirmed its death.

The whale had found itself trapped in shallow waters and become "distressed and confused".

It is also believed to have suffered a head injury.

The sperm whale was spotted in water near Harty Ferry. Picture: BDMLR
The sperm whale was spotted in water near Harty Ferry. Picture: BDMLR

A spokesman for BDMLR said: "Just before midday today we received news via the Marine Police Unit that the whale had been found, unfortunately it had fully stranded and died.

"The Cetacean Stranding Investigation Programme has been informed and they will work with the Port of Medway and HM Coastguard to secure the body for examination."

The whale was first reported to the Coastguard Thursday morning by staff at The Bubble Cafe, which overlooks Whitstable seafront.

Assistant manager Charlotte Bambridge said: "He or she was quite close - sort of stuck in one position for quite a while.

BDMLR volunteers at Harty Ferry near Faversham
BDMLR volunteers at Harty Ferry near Faversham

"Then he moved slowly towards the harbour for about an hour, and he was spraying water in the air.

"Then he stopped right where the harbour looks out, about 200m in front, and stayed there for about 15 to 20 minutes.

"We were worried he might be stuck so we called the Coastguard, but then the tide came in and he drifted off towards the Isle of Sheppey."

Dead whale on the Sheppey coast at Elmley. Picture: Lorraine St John, Kent Wildlife Rescue Services
Dead whale on the Sheppey coast at Elmley. Picture: Lorraine St John, Kent Wildlife Rescue Services

It was originally thought that the creature was a minke whale or possibly a humpback, but inspection of photos taken by eyewitnesses concluded that it was a sperm whale.

They have distinctive features including massive heads and prominent rounded foreheads, according to National Geographic.

The whales have the largest brain of any creature known to have lived on Earth.

Escaped animals, unusual finds and news from the RSPCA can all be found here

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