Whale washes up in Donegal estuary

dead whaleImage copyright Danny McLaughlin

A dead whale, thought to be a minke whale, has washed up in an estuary in the Irish county of Donegal.

The 27ft whale was discovered by locals on Thursday evening in the estuary where the river Leannan and Lough Swilly converge.

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) are expected at the site later on Friday.

Whale and dolphin strandings along the Irish coastline reached a record high in 2018.

Image copyright Danny McLaughlin

IWDG strandings officer Mick O’Connell said there are a number of possibilities as to why the whale has come into the Donegal waterway.

“From the photographs I have seen it looks most likely to be a minke whale. It possibly died at sea and been washed in with the tide.

“Or it is possible that he has died while swimming up into the estuary.”

Image copyright Danny McLaughlin

He said the minke, a summer visitor to Irish shores, does swim close to shore.

“We do see around six or seven minke strandings a year,” he added.

Minke whales can grow to up to 10m (33ft) in length.

Unlike humpback whales and dolphins, minkes do not “display” by breaching or leaping from the water when they come to the surface.

Resonsibility for the whale’s removal lies with Donegal County Council.

A spokeswoman said “staff are currently examining this matter and a decision will then be made in relation to next steps.”

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