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Rare dead whale brought ashore

Body of rarely-seen young humpback is found in English Channel near Normandy.

A YOUNG humpback whale (baleine à bosse), nine metres long and weighing eight tonnes, has been brought ashore in the Manche department.

Local whale expert Gérard Mauger, described the incident as “a historic event for the region,” adding: “Observations of humpback whales in France can be counted on your fingers over the last few centuries.”

The last time one was seen was in 1996 when one washed up at Louannec in Brittany.

Mr Mauger, of the Cherbourg-based Cotentin Whale Study Group, said the young whale (baleineau) was already dead when it was caught up in the nets of a fishing vessels.

“He quite rightly brought it back at a speed of one knot, in a boat that measured two metres less than the animal,” he said.

The Cotentin is a peninsula to the north-west of Basse-Normandie that juts north into the English Channel and makes up most of the Manche department. The whale was brought ashore there at Omonville-la-Rogue.

A team of scientists from the Marine Mammal Centre in La Rochelle is to go to study the whale – described as a “skinny adolescent” - to find out what caused its death – probably marine pollution or parasites.

Photo:Afp/Jean-Paul Barbier

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