Thursday 16 November 2023

Balaenoptera physalus: Fin Whale found dead on Cornish beach.

A sixteen metre long Fin Whale, Balaenoptera physalus, has been found dead on a beach in Cornwall, southwest England. The female subadult Whale was found on Fistral Beach at Newquay, on the north coast of the peninsula on the morning of Wednesday 15 November 2023. It had previously been sighted in an apparent state of distress of Towan Head the previous day. The cause of death has not yet been determined, but the Whale is reported to have been emaciated and heavily infected with parasites, suggesting it had been in poor health for some time. 

A Fin Whale, Balaenoptera physalus, found dead on Fistral Beach, Cornwall, UK, on Wednesday 15 November 2023. Ashley Abbot/BBC.

Fin Whales are the second largest Whale species, reaching about 27 m in length with an estimated maximum mass of about 114 tonnes. Fin Whales were hunted heavily until 1989, when it was given full protection by the International Whaling Commission. Since the introduction of the moratorium on Whaling the species has recovered well and is now only considered to be Vulnerable under the terms of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species (one step short of 'Least Concern').  The reporting of greater numbers of dead Whales on our shores is often distressing, and can appear to be sign of more Whales dying in inshore waters, but in fact this greater number of dead Whales reflects a larger population of living Whales being present offshore, and is a symptom of recovering populations.

This is the second Fin Whale to have been found on a Cornish Beach this year, with another Animal found on Perranuthnoe Beach, Marazion, in January. Other Fin Whales were found on a beach in Bridlington, Yorkshire in May, and Baile Uí Chuill Strand, in County Kerry, Ireland in July. In November 2021 a Fin Whale was found on a beach near Calais in France, and in February 2020 a Fin Whale was found dead on the Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall. The growing number of Fin Whale strandings in the UK and neighbouring countries, while individually tragic, suggests a growing population of these Animals in the area.

See also...

Follow Sciency Thoughts on Facebook.

Follow Sciency Thoughts on Twitter.