A dead 27ft minke whale which washed up on a Scarborough beach last week is believed to have drowned after getting tangled in lobster pot ropes.
The conclusion was reached by a scientist who carried out a post mortem on Friday, however official results will not be released until next week.
The body, which had been spotted on Wednesday floating near the outflow pipe in the North Bay, was dissected and removed on Friday.
Scientist Rob Deaville, from the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme, which is managed by the Zoological Society of London, drove up from the capital to carry out the examination.
It was a race against time, as there was just a two-hour window in which to complete the post mortem and remove the decomposing body from the beach before the tide came in.
Scarborough Sea Life’s Senior aquarist Todd German said: “We won’t officially know the outcome until we see the report next week. However, the whale was in a fantastic condition. It had a good blubber reserve, a full stomach and all its organs were in a good condition. So the primary cause of death looks like drowning due to it getting caught in lobster pots.”
Representatives from a number of agencies, including Sea Life, the RSPCA and the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority, were on hand to assist Mr Deaville with the examination as crowds of people looked on.
The Maritime Coastguard Agency was responsible for the removal of the whale as it was technically classed as a wreck. This was delegated to Scarborough Council, which brought in contractors to physically remove the whale from the beach.
A ramp was constructed from the slipway at the foot of the cliff, below Holbeck car park, so a tractor could access the rocky beach and get as close to the whale as possible.
The dissected carcass was then brought back up to the car park in the tractor, before being transported to an incinerator.
Mr German said Sea Life staff had been alarmed at the number of people who had clambered onto the whale and posed for pictures. The coast guard also had to be called out to people who had gone to look at the whale and had been cut off by the rising tide.
“Even though it was a big, smelly, rotting whale people were quite happy to go up and touch it. You wouldn’t do that with a dead cat or dog,” said Mr German.
“These whales carry a lot of different bacteria and all sort of nasty things. If you do touch them you must make sure you wash your hands or you stand a good chance of being sick for a good few days.”