Beached whale had lesions which suggested entanglement, expert says

The second whale to wash up on an East Lothian beach in less than a month had signs of becoming entangled, an expert has said.

On Sunday a badly decomposed minke whale carcass was found washed up on a North Berwick beach – the second to be found in the town and the third reported in Scotland within the past three weeks.

Nick Davison, stranding coordinator at the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme (SMASS), said on inspection of the mammal there “were some lesions present suggestive of entanglement”.

SMASS is a dedicated research and reporting project for stranded cetaceans, pinnipeds, marine turtles and large sharks in Scotland.

Whale removal
The dead whale was removed using a digger and trailer (East Lothian Council/Facebook/PA)

The North Berwick whale was lifted into a trailer and disposed of on Sunday.

It is the second whale to wash up on the same beach in recent weeks, with workers spending hours removing the nine-tonne carcass of a minke whale which beached on April 19.

Further north, a dead humpback whale was found on a sand bank at Loch Fleet nature reserve in Sutherland on Friday. Experts said that the juvenile female had died after becoming tangled in creel lines.

Minke whale washed up in North Berwick
A dead minke whale which washed up on the West Bay beach in North Berwick, East Lothian, on April 19 (Jane Barlow/PA)

On Monday, the carcass of what experts believe was a young sperm whale washed ashore in on Porth Neigwl on the south coast of the Llyn Peninsula in north Wales.

Stranded whales longer than 25ft (7.62m) are considered “royal fish”, with the Scottish Government having first claim on those found dead or stranded on the shoreline north of the border on behalf of the Crown.

If it does not want to claim it, it will speak to the local authority and environmental officers, who can then arrange to collect the carcass.

Responsibility for smaller whales, as well as all porpoises, dolphins and sturgeons, lies with the local authority.