Gwynedd: Dead whale so thin its ribs were sticking out

A 10-tonne beached sperm whale was so thin when it died its ribs were sticking from its side.

The post-mortem examination on the mammal found at Porth Neigwl, Gwynedd also discovered it ate squid beaks.

Experts said the whale was very poorly and underweight when it became stranded and had urged people to stay clear of the carcass.

The adult female whale about 10.8m (35.4ft) long was the second to wash up on a UK beach in two days.

It is only the second sperm whale to be recorded in Wales in the last century.

The post-mortem examination was carried out by a team from the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme and marine biologist Rob Deaville said there were parasites at “several sites” but these were considered incidental to its death.

He added that there was no evidence of recent feeding but the whale had consumed “small numbers of squid beaks”.

Mr Deaville said there was little evidence it had eaten plastic or other debris bar a “few fragmentary pieces”.

Sections of intestine were taken to be examined for microplastics.

The marine biologist said on Twitter it was confirmed it was an adult female from “scars on the ovaries and the appearance of the uterus”.

It was, he said, in “markedly poor nutritional condition”.

“We were concerned about a potential mass on its side,” Mr Deaville said.

“Surprised to find on site that this was actually the ribs protruding.”

It had suffered significant muscle wastage and was “the thinnest sperm whale I’ve ever worked on”.

The age of the whale remains unclear.

Mr Deaville said the interim findings were considered consistent with “marked nutritional loss and live stranding”.

The whale was far from home, he said, adding that more could be learned from further analysis.

Mr Deaville said it was only the second sperm whale recorded in Wales over the last century and only the fourth female in the UK in the same period.