Home NEWS Dead whale found with ‘most severe wounds ever recorded’ on UK beach

Dead whale found with ‘most severe wounds ever recorded’ on UK beach


A dead whale found on a Scottish beach became trapped in a loop of rope so tight, it ‘cheese wired’ through its skin, according to a veterinary pathologist.

The Sowerby’s beaked whale was found on Gullane Beach, East Lothian, with a weighted green cord that had cut through four centimetres of skin and blubber in its neck.

Dr Andrew Brownlee says that the four-and-a-half-metre long female may have been trapped for months, before it was found during high tide at around 3am on Saturday.

The veterinary pathologist believes the rope may have been attached to something heavier which almost entirely cut into the whale’s pectoral fin.

This fin is vital for swimming and the injury likely stranded the mammal.

Chilling photos show the cord embedded under layers of skin and blubber after it cut through the whale’s skin, which grew back over the top of it.

Dr Brownlee, head of the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme, said: ‘We see a lot of these, but this one really affected everyone who saw it, it’s quite clear that this is not okay.

‘It’s not okay from a conservation point of view, it’s not okay from a welfare point of view.

‘It’s been so entangled around the neck, that it’s dug into the tissue because it’s had some weight on it.

‘It’s cheese wired its way through the skin.’

He added that such entanglements were becoming more common, with nine similar incidents reported to his scheme in the last six months.

Dr Brownlee said: ‘This is the first time we have seen a Sowerby’s beaked whale entangled to this extent. From a welfare point of view, this animal suffered hugely.

‘It was a very chronic entanglement and it had been there for weeks, if not months.’

Although the source of the rope is not known, Dr Brownlee says everyone has a responsibility to ensure a situation like this never happens again.

He added: ‘It’s very hard to say where the rope came from, we don’t know whether or not this was from fishing or not.

‘What is worth highlighting is if we want to make a change it’s not about pointing at a particular industry and saying “it’s all your fault” – everybody has a role in this.

‘You can be involved in a beach clean, you can choose where you buy your food from to make it sustainable and as environmentally benign as possible.’


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