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Last Updated: Friday, 30 January, 2004, 17:25 GMT
Rare whale corpse found on shore
Cuvier's beaked whale
The whale was spotted by a farmer
A species of whale seen only twice in the past 25 years in Hebridean waters has washed up dead on the north west coast of Mull.

The Cuvier's beaked whale was spotted by a farmer on a beach on his land, west of Torloisk, on Monday.

The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust said the whale had been dead for a number of days before the sighting.

Scientists said the species is rarely seen along the Scottish coastline and offers significant research potential.

HWDT officials have examined the whale, which is thought to be male, and taken samples of skin, blubber and muscle for analysis.

Farmer Angus MacColl spotted the 18ft whale on his land.

If Mr MacColl hadn't taken the trouble to alert us valuable scientific data would have been lost
Tom Gaillard, HWDT
The skull has been removed to provide taxonomical identification of the species.

The HDWT said the whale had deteriorated to such an extent that it would be impossible to determine the cause of death.

HDWT's Tom Gaillard said: "This event shows why it is so important for the public to report strandings.

Scientific importance

"If Mr MacColl hadn't taken the trouble to alert us valuable scientific data would have been lost.

"We would encourage everyone in the Western Isles and Scotland to contact conservation organisations such as HWDT as soon as a stranding is noticed."

The whale will be taken to the National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Curator of Mammals and Birds, Dr Andrew Kitchener, said: "Cuvier's beaked whale strands only rarely on the Scottish coast, so it is very important that we try and preserve every stranding to find out more about this elusive species."

Strandings of Cuvier's beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris) are comparatively rare, with only 16 reported stranded in western Scotland during the last 85 years.

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