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Giant whale washed up on Denmark beach

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Fin whale at Blokhus beach. Photo: Henning Bagger/Scanpix
10:17 CET+01:00
Two whales have been stranded on the western coast of Jutland since Tuesday. One of them has been confirmed to be of the fin whale species, one of the world's largest.

The fin whale found stranded on the beach near Blokhus on Tuesday, is over 20 metres long – but still not one of the largest of its species, which can be up to 25 metres in length, making it the world's second largest animal after the mighty blue whale.

A second whale that was spotted stranded off the western Jutland coast near Blåvandshuk had not been identified as of mid-afternoon. It was seen some 800 metres off the coast and had not been brought to shore yet. 

While work to identify that whale is yet to get underway, researchers are a bit further on with the fin whale further north. 

“We have to figure out how long ago it died in order to find out what happened to it. It's hard to say whether it died on the sandbanks off Blokhus or further out to sea,” biologist and whale specialist Carl Kinze told broadcaster DR.

Photo: Henning Bagger/Scanpix
Photo: Henning Bagger/Scanpix

According to Kinze, ascertaining the circumstances surrounding the whale's fate is not a straightforward task.

"It could be disease, the playfulness of youth or the decrepitude of age – or an accident. It might have collided with a ship,” said Kinze.

Kinze said it was only possible to speculate on the cause of death until a veterinary examination of the creature was complete.

“If, for example, it was a ship, the vets would quickly see it,” Peter Teglberg Madsen, a whale researcher at Aarhus University, told DR. “On the other hand, a virus or illness can take a long time. The more dramatic its death, the more likely we are to be able to explain it.”

The whale will also be examined in order to confirm its origins – thought to be North Atlantic– and gender, as well as the contents of its stomach.

Story continues below…

Photo: Henning Bagger/Scanpix
Photo: Henning Bagger/Scanpix

Living fin whales are a relatively common sight in Denmark. At least one whale has been spotted in the country's coastal waters every year since 2003, according to Kinze. However, the whales are usually found in Denmark's eastern Kattegat and Baltic seas, where they feed on herring shoals, rather than near the western beaches.

The last fin whale to be washed up in Denmark was at the eastern Vejle Fjord in 2010 – a whale has not been discovered on the west coast since 1945, according to DR. 

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