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Dead whale stuck to ship at Sheerness docks killed outside Kent

Experts believe the dead whale found stuck to the bow of a ship off Sheppey may have been rammed in the Bay of Biscay off the Spanish coast more than 400 miles away.

A team from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) spent a day studying the 30-tonne body of the male fin whale at Sheerness Docks.

It was attached to the front of the American Highway car carrier and was towed into the docks by Jack Smedley and Peter Sands aboard the Mabel 6 mooring boat on Saturday, September 30.

The 30-tonne body of the male fin whale at Sheerness Docks
The 30-tonne body of the male fin whale at Sheerness Docks

ZSL team members conducted a post mortem on the whale with help from Peel Ports staff who winched the carcass onto the dockside.

The team’s report for the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) said: “Blubber deposits appeared to be good, indicating the whale was in good nutritional condition at death.

"Damage appeared to be consistent with being struck while in normal orientation at the surface.

"Given the degree of decomposition, the whale is thought to have been dead for several days.

“It is considered it was hit and killed by the cargo vessel while it was crossing the Biscay region.”

A spokesman for CSIP said: “Ship-strike is an issue which affects many cetacean species.

"Data from examinations feed into a database held by the International Whaling Commission to learn more about the issue and to mitigate the threat in the future."

Jack Smedley and Peter Sands towing the body of the whale
Jack Smedley and Peter Sands towing the body of the whale

It was the third fin whale recorded in the UK this year

There have been at least six reports of beached whales along the Kent coast in recent years over the past decade or so, including:

2000 - Decayed body of a baleen whale washed up at Warden Bay, Sheppey

2006 - A bottlenose dubbed Wally the Whale died after swimming up the River Thames to London

2011 - A 45ft sperm whale was stranded at Pegwell Bay in March and a 25ft minke whale was stranded at Epple Bay, Westgate in December

2014 - A 40ft sperm whale was found at Seasalter opposite Leysdown in February

2015 - A 36ft humpback whale was washed up near Cliftonville after being hit by a ship in October

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