Scientists have conducted an examination of a sperm whale which stranded in the Thames estuary

A sperm whale that died after getting stranded in the Thames Estuary showed no sign of a recent feeding.

Scientists conducted an examination of his 12.44m remains, and found his stomach was empty when he took his last breath.

The lack of squid beaks, the sperm whale’s primary prey, suggests the animal may have been out of its usual habitat for some time.

The marine animal died in the Swale tidal channel in Kent over the weekend – far from the deep waters the marine mammals are normally found in.

It had been unable to escape for three days after it was first spotted on Thursday morning, sparking fears it could get trapped on mudflats at low tide.

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Project manager Rob Deaville conducting an examination of a sperm whale that was stranded in the Thames estuary last week (Picture: PA/ZSL)
Scientists say it died on an empty stomach (Picture: ZSL/PA)
The lack of prey found in its stomach suggests it was far away from home for some time (Picture: ZSL/ PA)
Researches said it had not digested any plastic (Picture: PA/ ZSL)

The team from the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) worked through the night carrying out a dissection and collecting a range of tissue samples for further analysis.

The researchers also found that the adult male mammal had not ingested marine rubbish or plastics, as some had feared.

Project manager Rob Deaville said: ‘The findings are consistent with live stranding of an out of habitat individual.

‘Sperm whales are normally found resident in much deeper waters and the southern North Sea can be considered an abnormal habitat for the species as they are unable to feed there.

‘Sperm whales have previously been recorded stranded in south-east England, including a very similar case in Kent in February 2014.

The whale died in Swale tidal channel in Kent over the weekend (Picture: ZSL/PA)
This incident is the latest in a number of large sea creatures which have made it into the Thames Estuary (Picture: ZSL/PA)
Scientists worked through the night to examine the whale’s remains (Picture:PA/ZSL)
Whale’s are the world’s largest predator but this one had not managed to eat anything for some time (Picture: ZSL / PA)

‘That’s the value of monitoring programmes like the CSIP. Now with 30 years of data, we can gain real insight into the wider health of the marine environment and the frankly extraordinary wildlife that can be found around UK shores.’

The sperm whale is the world’s largest predator and can dive deeper than any other mammal – up to depths of over 2,000m. Its call reaches 220 decibels.

This incident is the latest in a number of large sea creatures which have made it into the Thames Estuary in the last 18 months.

In September 2018 Benny the beluga whale was spotted near Gravesend, Kent and stayed resident in the waters for months before disappearing.

In October last year Hessy the Humpback made headlines across the World after swimming up the River Thames as far Gravesend in Kent.





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