A body of a young humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) has been washed ashore in Cornwall. It is believed by experts to be same juvenille that was sighted off the coast of St. Ives on the 27th July 2010. Members from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) had been monitoring the whale for over a month when it was first seen by a marker buoy off Godrevy Point, Cornwall, the humpback disappeared from the area on the 31st July.
This is a tragic end to the unusual visitor, humpback whales are a rare vistor to the shores of the UK. Growing up to 16 metres long humpbacks follow a migration route that takes them up to 25,000km from their breeding grounds in the tropics to their feeding grounds in the North Atlantic, where they enjoy a diet of krill and small fish. A single calf between 4.5 to 5 metres long is born every two to three years.
This is the first known record of a humpback whale stranding in Cornwall. On the 12th September 2009, a humpback was recorded for the first time ever in the Thames River, London and subquently was found beached two days later. Prior to this one was found stranded at Port Talbot, South Wales in 2007.
Researchers are hoping that some DNA may be extracted from the body tissue samples taken possibly enabling scientists to identify which population the whale belonged to and further understand humpback whales better. The carcass was identified as a male of 5.9m in length with its baleen still in an early stage of development this suggests that the calf was still maternally dependent on its mother.