Friday, 27 September 2019

Humpback Whale washes up on Northumbrian beach after becoming entangled in fishing lines.

A juvenile male Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, has washed up on the coast of Northumbria, England, after becoming entangled in fishing gear off Whitely Bay last week. The Whale was found on the shore near Dunstanburgh Castle on Monday 23 September 2019, according to the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme. This is the second Humpback to have been reported to the programme this month; with the other having washed up near Dartford in Kent on 12 September, apparently after becoming trapped in the Thames Estuary and  starving. The Whale has been measured and photographed by the Howick Coastguard Rescue Team for the Natural History Museum, and will be moved at the earliest opportunity. The public are being advised not to approach the body.

A Humpback Whale that washed up near Dunstanburgh Castle, in Northumbria this week. Howick Coastguard Rescue Team.

Humpback Whales were nearly exterminated by commercial Whaling in the first part of the twentieth century. The species has been protected since 1946, and in recent years their population has appeared to be recovering in many areas, now being seen as being of Least Concern  under the terms of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species. These Whales are becoming increasingly common in waters around the UK, but are also increasingly often becoming entangled in fishing tackle here, which is not generally designed with Whales in mind. The Northumbrian Whale appears to have died after becoming entangled in creel lines, a form of traditional fishing in which a string of baskets on a rope is used to trap Fish.

A Humpback Whale that was found dead in the Thames Estuary on 12 September 2019. UK Cetacean Stranding Investigation Program/Zoological Society of London.

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