Tourists stunned as endangered whale washes up on Cornish beach
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Holidaymakers and locals at a Cornish resort were shocked to witness a 65ft-long endangered whale wash up on a popular beach.
The doomed whale inadvertently became a major tourist attraction at Carlyon Bay, near St Austell, as hundreds of sightseers flocked to see the female fin whale (also known as a razorback or herring whale). Roads leading to the beach became gridlocked as the news of the stranded mammal spread around Cornwall.
The beach eventually had to be cordoned off by St Austell Coastguard to allow vets from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue to assess the whale, which had injuries to its underside and head as well as lesions on its body.
A vet at the scene said that the whale had lost a huge amount of weight and that the plan had been to euthanise the creature due to the severity of its injuries and diseased condition, reports This is Cornwall. However, the whale died naturally and in the end did not need to be put down.
One holidaymaker, Phil Ford, told the local news service: "It is a shame to see such a magnificent animal washed up and helpless on the beach. However terrible, it was still a compelling sight, drawing crowds to view this startling scene."
The razorback is the second longest animal on the planet, after the blue whale. It can grow up to 85ft long, weigh up to 74 tonnes and live for 90 years. Populations are severely depleted due to excessive over-hunting and there are now believed to be only around 123,000 whales left.
Although still a rare sight around the UK shoreline, 21 fin whales were spotted off the coast of north Cornwall last year - the largest ever known gathering of fin whales ever spotted in British waters. Groups are now returning to British waters on an annual basis, according to marine experts at the Sea Trust.
Like all large whales, the fin whale is an endangered species and The International Whaling Commission has a moratorium on commercial hunting.
A post mortem on the beached whale in Cornwall is due to be carried out by experts in a bid to find the cause of death. People in the area are being warned that it is an offence to remove any part of the endangered mammal without an appropriate licence.
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