Heartbreaking photos show a dead whale washed up on a Scottish beach after it became entangled in a fishing rope

A dead humpback whale has washed up on a Scottish beach wrapped in a line of fishing rope so tight that it has cut deep into the flesh of its rotting carcass. 

The enormous mammal was spotted drifting off the coast of Scrabster, Caithness, yesterday but today floated on to the rocks where distraught locals found it tangled in a marker buoy‘s orange line.

Although the cause of the whale‘s death has not yet been determined, an environmentalist has said it is highly likely to have died an ‘agonising death‘ from being constricted by the rope. 

One shocked environmentalist on Facebook said: ‘Although a necropsy is yet to be performed, it is very likely that this humpback did die from entanglement.

‘Entangled whales can spend days, sometimes weeks, constrained by these lines and unable to properly move.

‘They become slower and weaker, and eventually die what must be an agonising death.‘  

The grim sight comes just a month after East Lothian was also rocked by a dead humpback which had become caught in lines.

In April, the juvenile whale was found on the beach at John Muir Country Park, Dunbar also entangled in ropes.

Entanglement is one of the biggest killers of sea creatures and the International Whale Commission estimates 300,000 whales and dolphins die annually in fishing nets and lines.  

And one more sea creature was added to this body count this week when a seal washed up in Cornwall with 35kg of fishing nets wrapped around its neck so tightly that it cut through to the animal‘s muscles.    On May 27 the seal was found washed ashore a few miles down the coast at Trebarwith Strand. 

The BDMLR were involved in the search along with the Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust.  

Later, the BDMLR were joined by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust Marine Strandings Network (CWTMSN). 

The volunteers took photographs of the stranded seal who suffered terrible injuries as a result of its efforts to free itself from the fishing gear and plastic rubbish.  

BDMLR‘s North Cornwall Assistant Coordinator Michelle Robinson-Clement, who was part of the original search team, said: ‘This animal suffered a prolonged, tortured death, there is no question of that. 

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‘He is one of the worst cases of entanglement we have seen anywhere in the world due to the extreme nature of his injuries. 

‘The material that was taken off him weighed 35kg – he wouldn‘t have been able to swim or dive.‘

His body was retrieved by CWTMSN volunteers the following day and taken for a post-mortem examination at the University of Exeter‘s Cornwall Campus in Penryn. 

The examination showed the net caused a massive wound around the seal‘s neck which cut in as far as the mammal‘s muscles. 

Pathologist James Barnett claimed the animal would not have been able to raise its own head or even feed. 

He believes the animal would have taken at least three weeks to die. 

Mr Barnett said: ‘This is probably the most serious net-related injury I have seen in 27 years of working with seals and the level of suffering this animal must have gone through is truly appalling.‘ 

Sue Sayer, Chairwoman of the CSGRT said: ‘For all our amazing wildlife and coastlines in Cornwall, we actually have the second highest rate of entanglement of any of the true seal species in the world, at up to four per cent of the animals we record in our survey work – in 2017 and 2018 we recorded around 100 different seals caught in marine litter in each year. 

‘The really sad fact is that many of them, like this poor animal here, are very often in places where they are totally inaccessible for rescuers to reach them, and frequently move between locations across the English Channel and Celtic Sea, which makes them difficult to track.‘ 

Niki Clear of the Cornwall Wildlife Trust added: ‘Sadly this is just one of the hundreds of thousands of marine mammals that are killed as a result of entanglement in marine litter every year around the world and this case shows how sickening a sight it really is for those of us who have to deal with this on a regular basis. 

‘However, incidents like this give us a chance to make a public call for action about the state of our oceans and what anyone can do to help reduce or prevent pollution from getting into the environment and killing more of our wildlife. 

‘Although it is an incredibly upsetting case, we needed to tell this animal‘s story to make sure it didn‘t suffer and die for nothing to be done about it.‘