A HUGE fin whale was discovered banked in the Solway at Carsluith on Monday morning.
A local fisheries biologist passing on her way to work spotted the creature, from the second-largest whale family, and at first thought it was an upturned boat.
But upon further inspection, she discovered the massive fin whale, an endangered species, which had embedded itself on the mudflats and died.
As the tide retreated, more and more of the creature was revealed, attracting attention from a variety of animal experts and photographers.
Reports of two whales sighted in the bay the previous evening had experts on alert.
One Carsluith man who spotted police making their way across the mudflats immediately dug out their telescope to see what was going on.
He said: “I thought someone walking their dogs had perhaps found a body or something but when we had a look, we could see it was a whale - and a big one.”
He and his wife dug out their camera and took a walk down the shore but a heavy haze had settled, making viewing impossible.
However, half an hour later and the sun came out, along with a local vet and SSPCA inspector.
Galloway Fisheris Trust staff, one of whom had made the initial discovery, returned to measure the whale.
Jono Hudson, a British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) marine mammal medic, attempted reach it the night before but failing light, the tide and treacherous mud prevented him.
He said on Monday: “It was still alive then as it could be heard exhaling through its blowhole. I was there again at first light this morning. As soon as the tide was low enough this morning I made my way out to it. It is a fin whale, approx 15 metres long. There is no knowing at this stage what caused it to strand. BDMLR will assess the photos I took, and make a decision on whether further investigation is viable, given its size and location.”
Usually found in groups of two to seven whales, the whle is found in most of the world’s oceans and can live for up to 90 years.
The American naturalist Roy Chapman Andrews called the fin whale “the greyhound of the sea... for its beautiful, slender body is built like a racing yacht and the animal can surpass the speed of the fastest ocean steamship.”
It is not yet known how the carcas will be dealt with, but previously such beached whales locally have been cut into sections and buried nearby to avoid foul odours and the attraction of unwanted pests.