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Cause of death of whale washed up on Portstewart Strand 'inconclusive'

By Claire Williamson

Published 14/10/2015

Seagulls flock over the whale at Portstewart Beach on The North Coast on Monday morning. PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
Seagulls flock over the whale at Portstewart Beach on The North Coast on Monday morning. PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
Seagulls flock over a 30 foot whale at Portstewart Beach on The North Coast on Monday morning.PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
A 43ft whale died after becoming beached on Portstewart Strand yesterday
Workers attempt to remove the whale from the beach before it is finally placed on the back of a lorry and taken away
The 43ft whale is removed from Portstewart beach on Monday
The 43ft whale is removed from Portstewart beach on Monday

Tests to determine the exact cause of death of a whale which washed up on the shore at Portstewart Strand last month have proved inconclusive.

On-lookers were fascinated and shocked as the huge animal washed up on Northern Ireland's North Coast on Monday October 4.

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30ft whale washes up on shore at Portstewart Strand  

Vets from Agri-food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) were called upon to try and establish a cause of death for the mammal after the 13 metre female Fin whale was stranded.

In a statement AFBI said natural causes were suspected.

It said: "The size of this whale is consistent with a juvenile which is only just post-weaning. The carcass was in a very poor condition and it had been dead for some time before it came ashore. The skin was peeling and it had a thin blubber layer.

"The muscle mass along the back was low and the stomach was empty. The body condition of the mammal was considered sub-optimal and natural causes are suspected, however the exact cause of death is inconclusive."

The National Trust ,which manages the popular Blue Flag beach, moved quickly to get the gigantic carcass off the sands, transporting it to nearby Craigahulliar landfill site for disposal.

The quick-thinking staff avoided the problems they faced in 1992 when a 31ft minke whale live-stranded and died on the beach. At the time they were overwhelmed by sightseers, with children climbing on the back of the beast and two trophy hunters cutting off its tail.

The carcass was initially swept onto rocks below Dominican College in Portstewart on Sunday October 3.

But it then floated back out to sea, only to wash in at the Barmouth further along the coast on the Monday morning.

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