Page last updated at 16:07 GMT, Tuesday, 1 September 2009 17:07 UK

Dead whale washed back out to sea

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The dead whale was washed up at Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan

A dead minke whale thought to have been stranded in the Bristol Channel has been washed out to sea again after beaching on the south Wales coast.

The spectacle of the 33ft (10m) creature brought many onlookers to the Knap at Barry, Vale of Glamorgan.

But after much of the day on the beach it was dislodged by the rising tide and drifted out into the channel again.

It is believed to have been initially sighted off Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, on Monday.

Rescuers from Somerset had tried unsuccessfully to tow it out to sea before it appeared again at Barry on Tuesday morning.

It was then thought to have been taken in an easterly direction by the tide, towards the direction of Barry Island.

Stranded whale image copyright  Burnham-on-Sea.com
The whale was initially spotted off Burnham-on-Sea

Vale of Glamorgan council said it would monitor the situation with a view to removing it if it washes up somewhere else.

Dave Ball, coastguard rescue officer with Barry Coastguard Rescue Team, said: "It has clearly been dead for some days at least. This sort of thing does happen from time to time.

"There have been reports of a dead whale in the sea here for some time."

Water-bikers Derek Jones and his 12-year-old son Sean, from Bristol, spotted the mammal still alive in the estuary at about 1700 BST on Monday.

They unsuccessfully tried to tow it back out to sea with a rope attached to their water bike.

Mark Simmonds, science director at the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, said: "Assuming it is indeed a minke whale, they are fairly commonly seen close to the shore around the UK, but more so in the north rather than the south.

"The minke whale is the smallest of the filter feeding whales that we often see in the UK.

"When whales are sick or wounded they might come ashore and the size of this whale is quite large."

He said he was sure the father and son meant well, "but towing it is not ideal as it could cause more harm - you should always call the experts."



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