The whale that washed up dead on the beach at Foreness Point, near Cliftonville, Kent in England on Wednesday morning has been removed from the scene.
Originally believed to be a minke whale, a postmortem revealed it to be a fin whale. It was the fifth fin whale to be stranded in the county for the last 25 years.
Scars on its 10.7m (36ft) body brought forward the possibility that the whale might have been struck by a ship's propeller, but this has not yet been confirmed. A spokesman from the Coastgoard said that the propeller wounds were probably caused by a collision with a ship after it died.
Instead, he offered another possibility: "It probably died of contamination after eating a plastic bag or something similar."
Whatever the truth may turn out to be, this is unfortunately a common occurrence, as whales and other marine animals often mistake floating discarded plastic bags as jellyfish and so eat them. The plastic bag would then block up the intestines and cause the whale to die of dehydration or unnatural causes.