A dead whale was found on a remote shore near Rope Lake Head, Purbeck last week. Local resident and author of Purbeck Revealed, Ilay Cooper, made the surprise discovery of the 13.6m (44.6ft) mammal whilst walking along the shore at low tide.
Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Marine Conservation Officer, Emma Rance, said: “The position of the whale has made it difficult to identity as its head, blow hole and dorsal fin are hidden but I am certain it’s a male baleen (filter feeding) whale and I believe it could be a rare fin whale juvenile Balaenoptera physalus the second largest whale in the world with adults reaching lengths of 27m. Identity will be certain once the Natural History Museum Strandings Unit have taken skin and blubber samples. These can also show its age, health, cause of death and any pollution encountered at sea.”
always interesting to have the chance to see such giants
If confirmed, this will be the first time a fin whale has been reported dead or alive in Dorset. In recent years, the smallest and most common baleen whale, the minke whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata, has been recorded alive in Dorset and two have washed up dead in the Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve.
Emma added: “Whilst it is a sad sight and there doesn’t appear to be any obvious signs of how it died, it is always interesting to have the chance to see such giants. However, it’s important to remember that all whales and dolphins carry transmissible disease and infections and can pose a health risk when dead or alive so please keep your distance. Rope Lake Head can also be difficult to access with the added risk of being cut off by the tide and unexpected cliff falls.”
Fin whales are classified as endangered
Whale populations have dramatically decreased mainly through the impact of whaling in the North East Atlantic throughout the 19th and 20th century. Overfishing of their prey has also taken its toll and many whales are on the Red List of Threatened Species. Fin whales are classified as endangered. Dorset Wildlife Trust is campaigning for a national network of Marine Protected Areas, to restore the health and productivity of our seas. Visit dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/marineprotection for more information.
All whales, dolphins and porpoises are ‘Royal Fish’ and property of the Crown. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is illegal to possess any part of the animal except under licence. All dead strandings should be reported to the Natural History Museum on 0207 9425155 and Portland Coastguard 01305 760439.
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Emma Rance at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620 or 07900 402172.
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About Dorset Wildlife Trust www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk
Working for a secure future for Dorset’s wildlife enriching the quality of life
Dorset Wildlife Trust is part of the Natural Weymouth and Portland Partnership; connecting people with nature
Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living. Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 25,000 members and over 40 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve. DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.