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Dr Sarah Perry is the Living Seas Wales Project Manager for the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales. In October 2019, Sarah visited Hell's Mouth, on the Llŷn Peninsula, to attend the examination of a sperm whale which had recently stranded there.

This is the significant as the stranding is the first recorded of a Sperm whale in Wales since routine recordings of strandings began in 1913, and only the second calf to be recorded stranded in the UK.

Sarah published a news article on the Living Seas Wales website shortly after the incident, which is recalled below:

"On the 29th October 2019 a Sperm whale live stranded and died at Hell’s Mouth on the Llŷn Peninsula in North Wales. The following day a necropsy examination of the animal was carried out by experts from the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP), who are responsible for the coordination of the investigation of all cetaceans, marine turtles and basking sharks that strand around the UK coastline.

Members of our Living Seas Wales team were fortunate to have the opportunity to visit the site at Hell’s Mouth where the whale stranded and to attend the examination of the whale. Although deeply saddening to see, interestingly it is the first recorded stranding of a Sperm whale in Wales since routine recordings of strandings began in 1913 and only the second calf to be recorded stranded in the UK. The examination of the whale found that it was a 6.7m juvenile male that was in moderate-poor nutritional condition. Squid beaks were found in the stomach contents although there was no evidence of recent feeding, indicating that the animal had been weaned and been feeding on “typical” prey. During the removal and examination of the animal’s brain, the CSIP team found evidence of potential nervous system disease, further tests may provide further information on this.

Sperm whales, like cows, have four stomach chambers full of digestive enzymes, during the examination a large piece of blue plastic sheeting was found in the upper part of the stomach and a large mass of ropes, fragments of monofilament line and other plastic fragments were found in the base of the upper part of the stomach.

A wide range of samples were collected during the examination of the whale and further information on the animal, as it becomes available, will be posted on the CSIP social media."

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