THE remains of a Sperm Whale which washed ashore in Skegness on Saturday have been removed following an all-night operation by council contractors.
East Lindsey District Council workers began the removal process shortly before 3am this morning (Wednesday).
The 30 tonne animal was moved across the beach using bulldozers and heavy lifting equipment and loaded onto a large transporter close to the RNLI station, before being driven to a specialist landfill site at Winterton in the north of Lincolnshire.
The operation was carried out overnight in a bid to minimise disruption, and also so it could make use of the early morning high tide at 5.16am, which helped to wash away any left-over debris.
The removal went off without a hitch. There had been fears that the rotting remains might prove too delicate to move without breaking apart, but the whale’s corpse remained intact throughout the recovery operation.
Speaking at the scene during the work, Victoria Burgess, Neighbourhoods Manager with East Lindsey District Council, said: “I’m delighted that it has gone so smoothly. Everything has gone to plan. It is the first time we’ve moved a whale this large in its entirety.
“Although we planned for every eventuality it all went exactly as we wanted it to.
“Removing the whale in the morning was the ideal time because although you hope everything will go to plan we had to make sure there was enough time left in the day to deal with things if anything had gone wrong.”
It had initially been hoped that the corpse would be removed on Monday, but red tape held things up until today (Wednesday).
Several logistical hurdles had to be jumped before such remains could be disposed of. These included receiving permission from the Marine Management Organisation, and getting clearance from the British Museum, which has first refusal on any whale remains washed up in the UK.
Victoria added: “Because the whale washed up at the weekend there was little we could do initially, as a number of the agencies we needed to speak to were not available until the start of the working week.
“But as soon as we could speak to them we applied for the licence to remove the whale.”
She added that the animal’s unusually large size also meant that specialist equipment was needed and a number of risk assessments had to be carried out before work could be done.