Dead sperm whale washes up on Edinburgh beach

MARINE experts are examining a young sperm whale that washed up near a beach.

A group row past the whale, which appears to have a large open wound. Picture: Ian Rutherford
A group row past the whale, which appears to have a large open wound. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Police Scotland and an SSPCA team were called to Portobello beach near the Rockville hotel in Joppa, Edinburgh, at around 7.30am today.

A spokeswoman said the animal is dead and arrangements are being made with Edinburgh City Council to remove it from the water.

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Experts believe the animal is a young sperm whale, but are unsure of its exact size.

Sarah Dolman, a manger of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation, is helping the recovery of the animal at Portobello beach.

She said: “It looks like it’s a sperm whale, probably not an adult and it’s been here since at least 7.30 this morning.

“I can’t see the length of it because it’s mostly submerged. They can grow up to 15 metres, but I would say this one is not that big. I’m pretty sure it’s dead, it’s lying on its side and the blow hole is completely submerged.

“There’s a post mortem team from the Scottish Marine Animals Stranding scheme, based in Inverness, and they are coming down to examine the animal. The council will make the decision about how that will work and where it will be taken to. Hopefully we’ll be able to find out why it died.”

There was excitement among conservationists last year when a pod of 14 sperm whales was spotted near the Firth of Forth. The animals usually reside in deeper waters off the north and west of Scotland towards the Atlantic, where they hunt squid.

A pod of 26 pilot whales washed up in a beaching further up the east coast in Pittenweem, Fife, in 2012. Ten of the pod survived and were re-floated, but rescuers had to winch the carcasses of 13 whales to the top of cliffs at the Fife beach to dispose of them after they died.