The violent and seemingly never-ending storms that battered the UK coastline throughout the winter months brought with them a very rare visitor to our shores. For only the second time in recorded history (the last time was almost 20 years ago on a beach in Wales), a Blainville’s beaked whale stranded on a beach in Cornwall, in the south-west of the country. Although it turned out to be a very sad end for the individual whale, the information gleamed from this whale will help us to understand more about the species and ultimately help us to protect them.
In truth, very little is known about beaked whales, with some species only described to science by way of a few bones. It is known that beaked whales inhabit temperate and tropical waters of all the three major oceans however, with the effects of climate change it may be that discoveries of this kind (in cooler waters) become more common in years to come.
This stranding amplifies the importance of reporting a stranded marine mammal to the relevant authorities as originally this sub-adult Blainville’s beaked whale was assumed to be a porpoise and only with confirmation by beaked whale experts, was a positive identification to species given.
Wherever you are in the world, if you come across a stranded whale, dolphin or porpoise please be sure to report it to the relevant authorities as the information gathered can be critical to furthering our understanding of these magnificent creatures.