A 40FT fin whale has washed up on the beach in Holland-on-Sea.

Coastguards and Essex Police said the huge marine mammal, which had sadly died, washed up on Friday morning.

A cordon has been put in place and people have been told to keep away from the whale, which is a female and believed to be a young adult or juvenile.

It is not yet known how the animal died, but an investigation will take place.

Fin whales, which are the second-largest species of whale and can grow up to 90ft and weigh up to 120 tonnes, are not commonly found off the Essex coast.

Kirsty Fordham, 43, discovered the whale whilst she was out on her early morning walk with husband, Mark, 47. 

Read more>>> Everything we know as 40ft whale washes up on north Essex beach

She said: “When I first spotted it, she was about 200-ft out and I wasn’t sure if it was the hull of a boat. 

“I took a couple of photos and zoomed in and realised it was a whale. 

“It was definitely dead as it was on its back and it was definitely ‘gone’ before it washed up into the shore. 

“It actually washed in quite quickly after I saw it.”

Kirsty, an activities co-ordinator for disabled children, said there was no sign of any wounds or bleeding. 

“It was so beautiful even in death and it was a sad sight to see. I had tears in my eyes and I was really choked up.  

“The poor thing needed to be shown some respect but there were a lot of people gathering down there and it was sad really as it was becoming quite a spectacle. 

"But that’s life I guess as people are just curious. There were hundreds of people down there when we left." 

Read more>>> Work continues to remove whale carcass from north Essex beach

Gazette: Essex Police and the coastguard are at the sceneEssex Police and the coastguard are at the scene

A spokesman for Clacton Coastguard Rescue Team said: "At 06.30am Dover Coastguard Operations Centre paged the Clacton team, along with Walton Coastguard Coast Rescue Team after a report of a possible overturned boat, as further information came in of more sightings the report was changed to a beached whale just off the Holland-on-Sea area.

"Once on scene, coastguards have to ascertain if the animal is still alive and arrange rescue, sadly in this case the animal was deceased, therefore we risk access the immediate danger to beach users and water users.

"In this case there is a danger to public health as the animal appeared to be deceased for a few days."

He added: "The coastguard informed The Receiver of Wreck (an official who administers law dealing with maritime wrecks and salvage), as this animal is designated as Royal Fish, the Receiver of Wreck then organises other bodies for collection, disposal and in some cases collection or on sight necropsy for research purposes."

Gazette:

  • Picture: Adam Bolton

The whale has washed up opposite the Kingscliff Hotel.

Essex Police urged people to stay away from the scene

"Sadly a 40ft whale has been washed up on Holland-on-Sea this morning," a spokesman for the force said.

"We are currently in attendance with other organisations and discussions are under way on how to remove her.

"The area is cordoned off and the public are advised to stay away."

Here is a video from the scene this morning:

Sue Chillingworth, who lives nearby on King's Parade, added: "I have lived here all my life and I have never seen a whale on the beach.

"We were on the beach walking the dog at about 7.45am. 

"It has got injuries on it and it is a bit bloated. 

"The police were quite concerned it could explode because it was so bloated. 

Gazette: Picture: Adrian SmithPicture: Adrian Smith

Picture: Adrian Smith

"There were lots of people here watching, at one stage it was about three deep."

"They closed off three bays and three slopes."

There are people scattered along the cliff top watching as police and coastguard work at the scene, but a cordon was later extended and people were pushed back from the area.

Big Blue Ocean Cleanup said it is also on site dealing with the situation.

Support officer Jasmin Lawrence, 34,from Clacton, turned out to see the while along with her children.

She said: "I was shopping in the town and everyone online was talking about it so decided to come down to see it.

"I've never seen anything like it - the kids can't believe something that big lives in the sea."

Gazette:

  • A family watches on before the seafront was cordoned off

Conner Hodgkins, 25, from Clacton, also went to the beach to see the animal.

He said: "It's something different - I wanted to come and see it for myself.

"It's quite a spectacle and a lot of people lined the cliff top to see it.

"I'm surprised so many people came given the situation with Covid-19."

Update, 1.40pm: Essex Police said it is continuing to urge people to stay away from the beach.

It said: "We are continuing to work with partner organisations to determine the best way to remove her from the area.

"The area is cordoned off and we're asking you to stay away.

"We appreciate your understanding and patience."

Update, 2.20pm: Tendring Council said: "Unfortunately, due to an ongoing incident with a dead whale that has been washed up on Holland beach, the beaches between Holland and Jaywick are closed and will be for the remainder of the day.

"We will update you where possible, thank you for understanding."

Update, 5.35pm: A spokesman for Tendring Council, the lead organisation for the clearance operation, said: “We have been working with multi-agency partners and experts to establish the quickest and best way to safely remove the whale carcass.

“A cordon is in place around the whale. Initially the beach had been closed off as far down as Jaywick Sands, as a precaution. This cordon has now been significantly reduced, and we hope to reduce the cordon further once it is safe to do so.

“We would ask all beach-goers to respect the cordon while the clearance work is carried out. We understand people may be interested and want to see the whale for themselves or watch the clearance work – we would remind people to observe social distancing and to avoid crowded areas as we are still in the Covid-19 pandemic.

“After seeking expert advice ‘although there are no specific hazards identified, the public are asked to respect the cordon until the whale is removed.

“Contractors will be on site tomorrow (Saturday, May 30) and we are advised the whale should be removed by the end of the day. The beach will also be cleansed as part of the clean-up operation.”