What can be causing rise in number of whales becoming stranded?
The increasing number of dead whales being found on our beaches is becoming a point of concern for experts. Reporter Dan Russell finds out more.
THERE is nothing sadder than seeing one of the world's largest mammals washed-up on the shore helpless and dying.
The number of beached whales is increasing with latest being found only two weeks ago on the shore behind North Coates Airfield, close to Horseshoe Point.
The land which the mammal is on is thought to be privately- owned, as East Lindsey District Council, Natural England and Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust do not occupy or manage it.
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The juvenile whale may have also have been stranded at Spurn point on April 1.
Experts admit there has been an increase in whales stranded in the North Sea and now they are determined to understand why.
Regional co-ordinator Rocky Clark, of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue, is about to embark on crucial research that could shed light on the growing problem.
He said: "I have been involved in all of this for about 23 years.
"Seeing a whale around here used to be a freak one-off.
"But now, we've had three strandings in just a matter of months on the North Bank alone"
Mr Clark admits it is difficult to determine if this is just a spike or whether an ominous pattern is forming.
"There are a number of reasons rattling around for this increase," he said.
"There are concerns about the amount of work taking place in the North Sea.
"There are electric cables being laid, which cut across the Earth's magnetic lines and there are concerns these cables are causing all sorts of confusion.
"Once in the Humber, there is little chance of escape, as the whales can't navigate because the sounds bounce off the sand bars."
Research is being stepped up to better understand what is attracting whales to the North Sea and the Humber.
"We are looking at taking the boat out in the next couple of weeks and putting hydrophones in the water to listen to the noises in the water and what frequency they are at," Mr Clark said.
"A large amount of noise will disturb these animals.
"We have been carrying out a lot more rescues and dealing with more strandings.
"There have also been a disproportionate number of seals with skin disorders caused by stress.
"There are a lot of things to look at."
Yorkshire co-ordinator for the Sea Watch Foundation, Robin Petch has played down the recent flurry of strandings.
He said: "We don't believe there is a significant upsurge in strandings.
"But it is true that, during the past year, there have been quite a few high-profile events on the north east coast and each one is an incredibly sad and moving event.
"There are many reasons for strandings. The important thing is not to oversimplify it and bring it down to one cause.
"Each situation is very different and there are differences between each species of whale and dolphin.
"Baleen whales such as minke and even fin and sei whales live in the North Sea all year round.
"There are, perhaps, more than 10,000 minke whales alone.
"It is inevitable that, occasionally, some will strand.
"When they come closer in-shore following the large shoals of spawning herring on our coast, particularly in late August through to October, they are at greater risk."
Once near to shore, whales face a host of dangers.
"If they enter the Humber then they face lots of ships, along with changes in currents and tides which will cause them problems," Mr Petch said.
"Before they know it, a whale can find itself stuck on the mud.
"If you add turbines being built to all that, then it increases the likelihood of strandings.
"Anything being constructed in the North Sea could potentially cause whales confusion."
Mr Petch is careful not to overstate the impact of offshore wind farms.
"There have always been strandings and it wouldn't be fair to blame these latest developments," he said.
"Often, animals that have been stranded have some health issue, such as parasites, infections or the swallowing of plastic.
"There do also appear to be changes in the sea temperature which may be confusing the whales and they do seem to be making wrong turnings more frequently.
"There have been quite a few strandings in the past couple of years, but it is difficult to determine whether this is a pattern or not."
If you find a stranded whale, or other animal, on the beach call the Grimsby Telegraph on 01472 372236.