The 44ft (13.4m) 20-tonne adult male was stranded on Redcar beach and reported to police at 6.10am, sparking a major operation to save it. But Richard Ilderton, of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue, who was called to the scene, said the North Sea was the wrong environment for such a large creature, and any attempt to refloat it – even if it was possible – would have been cruel because a lack of food supply.
Martin Unne, 58, from Thirsk in North Yorkshire, was among the hundreds enjoying the half-term sunshine who came to see the whale after hearing about its plight on the radio.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said. “It would be more interesting if it were still alive, so it is sad it is not. Nature is amazing.”
Steve Goldswain, responsible on Redcar and Cleveland Council for community protection, said cordons were put up on the beach because the whale could be a health hazard.