A sperm whale has died after becoming stuck in the Thames estuary, rescuers have confirmed.
The British Divers Marine Life Rescue team said the animal had been trapped for three days, unable to escape.
According to reports, the whale appeared confused and had tried to change direction while swimming around mudflats of the Swale, a tidal channel of the Thames in Kent, yesterday.
Its body will now be examined by the Cetacean Stranding Investigation Programme, in an attempt to understand how and why the large animal became trapped.
The British Divers Marine Life Rescue said: “The whale hasn’t yet become dry stranded as far as we are aware, but we do believe that at times it has been grounded while still being supported in water.
“(This has happened) when the tide has been at the lowest point over the past couple of days.
“The whale was still swimming but movements were not smooth and it did appear to be distressed and confused, changing directions but not travelling far.
“There was also evidence of a slight injury to the animal’s head but nothing significant.”
Speaking about the whale’s tragic demise, the assistant manager for HM Maritime and Coastguard, told Kent Online: “We look right out to sea, and he or she was quite close – sort of stuck in one position for quite a while.
“Then he/she moved slowly towards the harbour for about an hour, and he was spraying water in the air.”
But whales aren’t an uncommon occurrence in the UK.
Last year the body of a huge humpback whale has washed up on a beach in Northumberland.
The dead whale was spotted between Craster and Dunstanburgh Castle.
The number of whales and dolphins washing up on British shores is rising, according to experts.
The figures from 2017 show a whopping 1,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises have been stranded on the coastline of the UK – the highest number of any year since records began.
While a staggering 4,896 have died on beaches and coastal areas between 2011 and 2017.