Race to clear 40 foot minke whale washed up on UK beach ‘before it explodes’

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Race to clear 40 foot minke whale washed up on UK beach ‘before it explodes’

  • The sea creature washed up on the beach in South Gare, Redcar on Tuesday evening
  • Experts fear sunlight will increase pressure and cause carcass to explode
  • Dog walkers urged to stay away as corpse smell can attract aggressive seals

The race has begun to remove a washed up minke whale from an English beach ‘before it explodes’.

It comes after the 40ft mammal was spotted on Tuesday evening by a walker on the shore at a wind farm in South Gare, Redcar.

Experts have been called to the scene to make preparations for the removal of the marine mammal.

When a whale washes up on a beach, it’s only a matter of time before they explode and send their guts flying over the shoreline.

Emergency services drop off whale feared may explode in sun’s heat on a Redcar strand beach

The minke whale is thought to measure up to 40 feet and is most commonly seen in the North Sea

The minke whale is thought to measure up to 40 feet and is most commonly seen in the North Sea

Colin Stonehouse, a member of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue said: ‘When I arrived I checked to see if it was alive but it had already died so we’re going to record it.

“We need to pull it back, collect some data and find the cause of death.”

He added that although the North Sea would be his natural habitat, it is not uncommon for whales to come close to shore.

He added: “It could be navigation problems, there’s a lot of bruises on it.

“It’s a female, a juvenile moving into adulthood, but I’d have to measure the length to get an exact age.”

Why do dead animals explode?

When an animal dies, bacteria in the carcass produce methane as part of the decomposition process.

If this is not gradually removed from the body, it will build up and explode at the first opportunity.

Whales are the most extreme because their sheer size magnifies the effects of a gas buildup.

Live toads in Hamburg, Germany, started spontaneously igniting in 2005. Crows were thought to pick out their livers and leave a hole, so when the toads blew themselves up as a defense mechanism, their entire bodies burst.

And royal undertakers hastily drilled a hole in the overweight English King George IV’s coffin to allow gases to escape – after an apparently botched embalming process.

Stonehouse was in talks with Redcar & Cleveland Council waiting for them to confirm when the whale would need to be removed from the water.

He added: ‘The sunlight will cause it to build up pressure and it will explode, probably this afternoon.

“We have to keep dogs away, if seals come to the beach they can bite a dog.”

A coastguard crew was on hand to keep people away and dogs from entering the water, and they had cordoned off that part of the beach.

Walker Fiona Rowbotham first spotted the whale on Wednesday morning and posted a warning on social media.

“Some kind of great shark or whale has washed up in the Gare,” she said.

“Make sure everyone is walking dogs down there.”

Minke whales are the smallest of the ‘big whales’, averaging 10.6 m in length and weighing up to 20,000 pounds (9 tons).

They are also the most common of the large whale species and can be found in the world’s oceans.

When a whale washes up on a beach, it’s only a matter of time before they explode, sending their guts flying over the shoreline.

When an animal dies, bacteria in the carcass produce methane as part of the decomposition process.

If this is not gradually removed from the body, it will build up and explode at the first opportunity.

Whales are the most extreme because their sheer size magnifies the effects of a gas buildup.

In 2013, a biologist was filmed cutting open a washed up whale in the Faroe Islands.

As soon as the biologist started working, the gas inside exploded, spewing tons of organs and guts into the air.

What are minke whales and how big do they get?

Minke whales are the smallest of the 'big whale' family

Minke whales are the smallest of the ‘big whale’ family

Minke whales are the smallest of the ‘big whales’, averaging 10.6 m in length and weighing up to 9 tons.

They are also the most common of the large whale species and can be found in the world’s oceans

Female minkes are usually larger than their male counterparts.

Minke whales are named after a Norwegian whaler named Meincke, who reportedly mistook a minke whale for a blue whale.

They can remain submerged for at least 15 minutes before returning to the surface for air and living for up to 50 years.

Minke whales are still hunted in countries such as Iceland, Norway and Japan.

Minke whales are listed on the IUCN Red List as one of the least concern species, in part due to a lack of data.

Some of their populations have declined in number, but not enough to indicate that they are in danger of extinction.

They usually feed on krill and small fish, but when those aren’t available, they prey on larger fish such as haddock or cod.

Minke whales carry 10 to 11 months and give birth to live young. Minke whale mothers will nurse their calves for four to six months before the calf switches to solid food.

Source: Oceana.org

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