‘Drowned’ Humpback Whale Washed Up On Scottish Coast

It may come as a surprise to those across the rest of the UK, but the Scottish coast line is no stranger to large marine animals including dolphins and whales. Not only are they found in the seemingly distance waters surrounding the highlands and islands, but can be found in much more industrial and populated areas, such as the Firth of Forth, home to Edinburgh.

Often a sight that’s sparks joy, a humpback whale has been seen up and down the Forth in recent months, unfortunately this time tangled in rope. While efforts were made to detangle the whale, yesterday it was found washed up on the East Lothian coast near Dunbar.

The juvenile male is believed to have been entangled by rope and drowned before being washed ashore at high tide.

Unfortunately there is a dead humpback whale at Tyninghame. Whilst we appreciate people are interested to see it we do ask that you stay back from the carcass for health and safety reasons. We are aiming to remove it from the beach later this evening. pic.twitter.com/wya4INmRlR— ELC Countryside Rangers (@ELCrangers) 23 April 2019

While Dr Andrew Brownlow, veterinary pathologist for the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme, has stated that humpback whale entanglements are rare1, strandings due to entanglement across the UK is a growing issue.

A timely study by WWF, has highlighted just how much of a problem it is, reporting that roughly 1000 harbour porpoises die in UK waters each year due to becoming trapped in firshermen’s nets. The report draws on a number of academic papers based on observations from boats, and calls for certain fishing equipment, such as gill nets, to be replaced with better methods and increased monitoring.

It is clear in both instances that by investigating how these mammals have died can help those like Dr Brownlow to work with fishermen and other industries to determine how they can mitigate against these unintended tragedies.  

  1. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-48022781

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Abi Gardner

I'm a Ecosystem Services (MSc) student at The University of Edinburgh, with a background in Environmental Geography. I'm passionate about ecology, biogeography, environmental management, sustainability and climate change.

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