A 40 foot bull sperm whale has died after becoming stranded off Hunstanton yesterday.
The ocean giant, which weighs around 30 tonnes, was swimming with three other whales off the resort when it became beached in shallow waters.
Last night, lifeboat crews desperately tried to coax the creature back out to sea as it fought a losing battle, thrashing around in rocky shallows.
Experts from the British Divers Marine Rescue group rushed to the scene as police and coastguards cordoned off the beach.
They were stood down as the tide turned at dusk when it became clear they could not save the creature, which died at around 11pm.
British Divers Marine Rescue member Beth Phelps said: “We couldn’t move it, it wasn’t in good shape and was bleeding a lot.
“We haven’t got the capacity to euthanase an animal that size. It was 30ft long and about 20 tonnes.”
The four whales were first sighted at around 3pm on Friday. Three of the pod managed to swim away in the direction of Lynn, while one came to rest beneath the cliffs.
Initially it was hoped the whale would unbeach itself in high tide with the help of lifeboat crews and marine divers, but as the ride retreated, the whale’s struggles became weaker.
UK Coastguard Richard Johnson is now advising the public to stay away from the whale after confirming it didn’t manage to survive.
He said: “It was obviously a very distressing scene earlier and we would ask the public to stay away from the beach.
“We are due to cordon off the area and later today and an officer from the Zoological Society of London will be inspecting the animal and carrying out tests.”
Hunstanton Coastguard Rescue Team, Norfolk Police and Hunstanton RNLI Hovercraft were on scene to assist and make sure the public did not cause the whale further distress during the rescue attempt. It is unknown where the rest of the pod are at this stage.
Nigel Croasdale, manager of the Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary, said: “We received a number of calls from members of the public, saying they had seen large animals, sharks or whales, along the coast.
“We went out to have a look to see what was going on. We saw at least four individual whales which we believed to be sperm whales swimming around in the shallow water.
“They seemed to be moving slowly, I think at that point, they were finding themselves partially-beached.
“The tide was still on its way in at that point.” This video by Gary Pearson shows the whales in the sea uesterday.