Remains found on beach confirmed as whale

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WHEN a stinking mass of fat, skin and bones washed up on Eastney seafront in February, dog walkers and beachgoers had no idea what the culprit of the foul smell was.

After months of hard work, the Marine Biology department at Portsmouth University has established that it was a male sperm whale.

The scientists came to their conclusion after a series of DNA tests on bones removed from the carcass.

They also received advice from the Natural History Museum and American whale expert Joseph el Adli from the University of Michigan.

Dr Paul Farrell, 55, from Mayles Road, and his colleague Marc Martin collected the samples before the pile was removed by Portsmouth City Council.

Dr Farrell said: ‘The head section was missing, which would have made it easier to identify.

‘By measuring the vertebra and with the help of students we have been able to determine that the specimen had only recently been fully grown.’

He added that the whale was likely to be a male because they travel much further afield, whereas females stay in tropical seas.

‘Thankfully, these majestic creatures, which can grow to 18 metres long and weigh over 50 tonnes, are no longer hunted for their oil and the current population is a few hundred thousand,’ he said.

‘However, they are still under threat from pollution, shipping and other human disturbances.’