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Image: Peter Flood

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An orca lies in the surf as people look at it.

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A fluke of a North Atlantic right whale lifts out of the water

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Initial tests point to lack of food as factor in UK sperm whale deaths

Preliminary findings into the deaths of two of the six sperm whales whales beached on the coast of the UK in recent weeks have found that the cause of death was the result of live stranding, and dehydration due to a lack of food whilst in the North Sea. 

Samples have been taken from three other whales but we may never discover why they ended up in the area.

A sixth sperm whales stranded and died on a Ministry of Defence beach

These whales gain fluids (hydrate) from their food and it is thought that a lack of suitable prey in the shallow North Sea contributed to their deaths. 

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is funding a full UK investigation that will look further into any external contributing factors.

Nearly 30 sperm whales have stranded in the UK, France, Netherlands and Germany since the start of the year.

More on strandings