26
Nov
13

A silver lining

For the third time in four days I found myself searching for a dead whale. On the other day of the four we were playing with blow up whales and ‘jumping’ rubber seals training to be marine mammal medics. It would be good and healthy for my soul to spend a little time in the presence of a live cetacean sometime soon – roll on March. More about that another day.

It turns out that after the Minke washed up at Cromer on Friday a Sperm Whale was reported within a mile of Cromer on the Saturday. I couldn’t find it. I found out yesterday this was a hoax. A much more reliable report came in yesterday of another Minke further around the coast at Sea Palling. When I arrived at the site disposal was already being arranged. This was a smaller whale (5.8m) than the Cromer individual, a young female, and had been dead around 3 to 4 days or maybe less,

I guess this individual had wandered inshore of the reef and had become trapped. Dead Minke Whales tend to float upside down and their skin is easily abraded hence the dorsal fin and upper surface damage where it had scraped on sand and rocks. The holes on the underside were natural orifices that had been extended by bird damage.

News of yet another stranding prompted someone to ask me “what’s going on?” It’s not an unreasonable question given that the last officially recorded Minke Whale stranding was 44 years ago and then we get two in four days. It’s sad to see such a glorious animal in such a sorry state but every cloud has a silver lining. If the Herring Shoals offshore were not in such a good state and sightings of whales off the Norfolk Coast were not increasing we wouldn’t have ship strike and stranded Minke Whales as well as Humpbacks offshore. As it always has been, death is a part of life.

2013 11 25 Minke Whale Sea Palling Norfolk_Z5A3674

2013 11 25 Minke Whale Sea Palling Norfolk_Z5A3693

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18 Responses to “A silver lining”


  1. November 26, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    Oh man this is really sad, poor whales… 😦

    • November 26, 2013 at 8:22 pm

      It is sad you’re right but it does have a silver lining. Let’s try to look on the positive side.

      • November 26, 2013 at 9:06 pm

        yes i’ll try 🙂 but i was wondering, why do whales get so close to the shore?

      • November 26, 2013 at 9:43 pm

        Good question. In reality we don’t know but there are several theories:

        bad weather
        military sonar
        underwater explosions used in construction of wind farms etc
        diseases such as viruses
        underwater seismic activity
        magnetic field anomalies
        unfamiliar underwater topography
        chasing prey into shallow water and getting caught by the tide

        In could be one or more of these reasons that causes whales to be disorientated or seek out shallow water.

      • November 26, 2013 at 10:00 pm

        I see, with all these reasons, it’s kind of hard to stop it from happening. 😦 Thank you very much for taking the time to explain it to me, i really appreciate it. 🙂

      • November 26, 2013 at 10:13 pm

        No problem. I guess you’re used to seeing whales living on Madeira – very much a hotbed for them!

      • November 26, 2013 at 10:34 pm

        Yes i’ve heard of beached whales here, but only once or twice, to be honest. But i know that years ago we used to hunt whales around here… Unfortunately, i’ve never seen one with my own eyes, i haven’t been that lucky yet. 🙂

      • November 26, 2013 at 10:48 pm

        There are several operators that will take you out to see whales where you live. You would see several dolphin species, Pilot Whales are not far offshore and you may be lucky to see a Bryde’s Whale – Madeira is one of the best places in Europe to see them. If I lived where you do … I’d be out there every weekend!

      • November 26, 2013 at 11:13 pm

        I have to investigate that, i’d love to photograph dolphins and whales 🙂 I remember that many years ago i went to Porto Santo on holidays with my family and i saw dolphins following our ship, it was very nice! 🙂 So have you ever visited Madeira? 🙂

      • November 26, 2013 at 11:20 pm

        The Azores and The Canaries but never Madeira … not yet.

      • November 26, 2013 at 11:22 pm

        Ah i see 🙂 Well, it’s never too late! I’m sure you’d enjoy it! 🙂

      • November 27, 2013 at 10:20 pm

        I think you’re probably right!

  2. November 26, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    Always sad to see a stranded animal but well put Carl… Death is indeed part of life. In Yorkshire too we have seen more whales close inshore this year, following the same spawning herring as well as sprats and sand eels. And like humans, the whales sometimes make bad decisions, have accidents or simply get old and die. Some of these end up on our beaches. I hope it’s not the same young female that interacted closely with our whale watching boat and passengers off Whitby in July but that’s also a natural human reaction

  3. November 27, 2013 at 12:43 am

    Whales keep doing this for some reason. Probably have done for millions of years – still sad to see but such is life (and death). Good post though! 😀

  4. November 27, 2013 at 10:58 am

    A nicely written piece and a sad sight indeed, but great to know that sea life is thriving. Nature is a vast and mysterious thing.


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