Thieves cut off jawbone of stranded sperm whale

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Thieves have plundered the carcasses of sperm whales washed up on the English coast. It’s happened five times. The latest appears to be a 10-tonne sperm whale about 36 feet long which was found on the rocks at Sheringham, north Norfolk on Monday. It’s jaw had been removed with a chainsaw. The thieves apparently want to get their teeth. Apparently it is against the law to carve up a whale like this. The picture shows the whale before the mutilation.

Sperm whale plundered

Sperm whale plundered. Photo: BBC.

The whale was a juvenile. It was stuck on rocks on the seafront. It is believed that the it was part of a pod stranded on the Yorkshire coast on Christmas Eve. This winter there have been three sperm whales found along the Norfolk coast. The others were sighted at Weybourne and Snettishham and one of them, as I understand it, was missing its jawbone for the same reason. These are treasure hunters looking for trophies.

The bodies decompose quickly and therefore if scientists want to find out whether the whale was ill in order to discover why it died they have to act quickly. The BBC tells me that they sometimes lose their way and end up in the southern North Sea which is quite shallow for them as they normally live off the continental shelf where the water depth is more than 700 metres. In shallow seas their sonar does not work so effectively and their navigation systems fail them.

There are pictures on the Internet of a sperm whale stranded on a beach in Scotland which was being dissected by scientists carrying out an autopsy. They said that the heart was in good condition. People are fascinated with the size of a sperm whale’s heart. The picture shows the heart being about the size of an armchair. Although it was difficult to distinguish its outline. People tend to exaggerate the size of the organs of a whale. Although they are enormous for obvious reasons.

As I understand it, the experts are still unsure as to why whales strand on beaches like this and die. They appear to have lost their way but why is this? Some people think that it is military exercises in which submarines use sonar which affects the sonar of whales and so they lose their navigation. Some people think that it is the pollution of the oceans and certainly some whales die because of ingesting plastic. The oceans are heavily polluted with human plastic waste. There have been some shocking images of the stomachs of whales full of plastic resulting in the animal dying of starvation. Humankind has a massive problem with the oceans. Not enough is being done to protect marine wildlife. It’s a sad state of affairs.