Page last updated at 11:46 GMT, Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Tests after whale's death on Northumberland coast

Beadnell sperm whale
The whale is thought to have lost its way before becoming stranded

A post-mortem examination is due to be carried out on a sperm whale which died after becoming stranded on rocks on the Northumberland coast.

It is believed the 10m (32ft) mammal lost its way and became dehydrated before coming ashore at Beadnell Bay, near Seahouses on Monday.

The British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) said the 20-tonne whale was too heavy to be lifted from the scene.

A specialist vet is expected to carry out the on-site examination later.

Richard Ilderton, of the BDMLR, said the whale was too heavy to have been lifted back into the water.

'Horrible events'

He said it would have to be rendered before being disposed of.

He said: "If whales like this end up in the North Sea they won't have anything to eat and will end up dehydrated.

"That starts a horrible chain of events which ends up in the situation we have here.

"This animal was definitely not local and not of these waters."

Sperm whales are the deepest diving mammal and the largest toothed of all whales.

They can grow up to 18m (59ft) in length and weigh up to 50 tonnes.

The mammals are found in all oceans, except the Arctic, and feed on squid and other large deep-water fish.

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