A mysterious looking ‘large blob’ measuring 23 feet long has washed up on a Welsh beach.
The creature appeared on Broad Haven South beach in Pembrokeshire last week and initially left experts dumbfounded as to what it was. Measuring at seven metres in length, the animal, which had clearly been dead for a while and had begun to decompose, was thought at first to be a whale.
Pictures taken from the beach show the size of the creature, with one image showing something which had on first glance looked like an object of some sort that had entered its body while in the sea.
It turned out to be one of the creature’s vertebrae. The corpse was also missing most of its head.
Marine Environmental Monitoring – a partner organisation within the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme – monitors, records and collects aquatic mammals, marine turtles and fish that strand around the Welsh coast.
A spokesman for the organisation said: “Due to the ongoing risk posed by Covid-19 we have limited the amount of strandings we attend to only the more unusual ones. On Thursday, February 25, we got a call to a very large blob that had washed up on Broad Haven South beach in Pembrokeshire.”
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He added: “Due to the size of it we believed that it could be a whale. Also, within one of the pictures we had been provided it looked like there was a possible large roll of something within the stomach. Due to this we decided to attend.
“On arriving it became clear that it was not a whale and instead some form of large fish. Also, the thing that we thought was a large roll of something turned out to be just one of its vertebrae.”
The organisation sent some images taken at the scene to the Natural History Museum, which confirmed that the creature washed up was a basking shark.
The spokesman for Marine Environmental Monitoring added: “Basking sharks are in the waters around the British coastline, but it is rare for them to wash up in Wales.
“The basking shark is the second largest shark, with the adults growing to around eight metres in length, which is possibly how long this one was when it died.
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“The whale shark is the only one that grows larger. Like the whale shark, the basking shark is a filter feeder with a greatly enlarged mouth.”
It is not known when or how the shark died.