Since January 2016, more than 30 sperm whales have washed up on the beaches of northern and eastern England, causing scientists to look more closely at their behaviour, their habitat and anything that could be damaging them.
The sperm whale is a truly incredibly creature. Able to grow up to whopping 20.5 metres in length, the creatures are the biggest toothed predator on earth. The sperm whale is also the second deepest diving mammal on the planet and is able to reach depths of 2,250m. Sperm whales can be found in oceans around the world, however only adult male whales venture into the cooler waters found in higher latitudes. In general, sperm whales stick to deep off shore waters, favouring depths of over 1000m.
Why are sperm whales beaching in Norfolk?
Scientists don’t know for sure why sperm whales have begun to wash up on the county’s shoreline. One theory is that all of the whales have come from a single bachelor pod that took a wrong turn in the North Sea, an area where adult males are known to live in relatively large numbers. If this is the case, the recent spate of sperm whales beaching on Norfolk’s shores may soon come to an end. However, scientists fear that the beachings could be the result of a series of whale pods becoming disorientated and finding themselves suddenly in shallower waters. This could point to a more fundamental problem with the whales’ natural environment and could mean that the sad beachings will continue in the future.
How can we help the whales?
If you, like many people in Norfolk, have been moved by the plight of the whales, there are lots of different ways to help these magnificent creatures. One thing that many environmental agencies and charities are asking is that the public not damage the carcases in any way. In the past, trophy hunters have cut teeth and bones from deceased whales in order to make ghoulish souvenirs. Not only does this make it harder for scientists to work out why the whales died, it is also upsetting for those working hard to help the whales. You can also help by supporting the BDMLR with your donation. The British Divers Marine Life Rescue. is an organisation dedicated to the rescue and well-being of all marine animals in distress around the UK. Visit their website on http://www.bdmlr.org.uk
MARINE ANIMAL RESCUE HOTLINE: 01825 765546 during office hours.
(07787 433412 out of office hours)