The animal, which is believed to be a male sperm whale, died only a few hours after becoming stranded on the beach on England’s east coast. Marine experts say it appears the whale got lost.
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.
The partially-submerged whale was pronounced dead shortly after 9am, despite firefighters’ efforts to keep it wet.
Mr Ilderton said: “While we have whales in the North Sea, it is not a suitable environment for a sperm whale because the food supply is not there. It doesn’t eat, it becomes malnourished, it then becomes dehydrated because whales do not drink, they get their liquid from their food.”
The whale will remain on the beach overnight, watched by security guards, before a post-mortem examination is carried out by zoologists on Wednesday.
The responsibility for disposing of the carcass falls to the local authority. How this will be done is as yet unclear but the Redcar and Cleveland council told Channel 4 News it is in discussions with specialist contractors who dealt with the disposal of another male sperm whale further up the coast in Northumberland last year.
Although the cost of disposal is likely to “run into the thousands of pounds”, the council is confident it will be able to recoup the money.