The orca is the first to have washed up on British shores in 20 years having been found in The Wash, which is located near Holbeach. It measured 15ft long and was thought to have died several weeks ago, experts claimed. Analysis of its stomach contents revealed a large mass of plastic, but those examining the creature do not believe this caused its death.
Its cause of death remains unknown.
Orcas are known to swim in British waters, according to experts at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) who are investigating how the animal was stranded at The Wash.
ZSL’s Rob Deaville and Matt Perkins collected samples or the carcass, including its liver, blubber, muscle and kidney.
Mr Deaville told the Mail Online: “This is a really unusual stranding for England and Wales. The last one I went to was in 2001 in the Mersey Estuary.”
The carcass has not been moved and was mostly intact despite its decomposed state.
Analysis of the mammal’s stomach revealed it had not eaten recently, but a large chunk of plastic remained inside.
Orcas are a priority species for research by ZSL.
This is because they absorb significant concentrations of marine pollutants such as chemicals known as PCBs.
Mr Deaville said: “Killer whales are a priority species for us as, because they are apex predators, they absorb a huge amount of marine pollutants particularly PCBs.”
He added: “Even in this decomposed condition it will potentially tell us an awful lot about the population out there.
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“We collected a range of samples for follow up bacteriology and histopathology, in addition to a range of samples that will inform pollutant analyses, as well as dietary studies, life history, age and population genetic analysis.”
Just last month a dead sperm whale was washed up on the shores of Scotland with a large amount of plastic in its stomach.
The plastic was found by the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme (SMASS), which investigates the deaths of whales and dolphins, during a post-mortem examination.
Fishing nets, plastic cups, packing straps and plastic bags were among the items found in a compacted mass inside the creature’s stomach.
The whale was discovered by locals on Seilebost Beach on the Isle of Harris in the outer Hebrides on December 4.
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It was alive when it was found beached, however died a short time after, according to experts from SMASS.
It is not clear at present whether the debris had contributed to the mammal’s death.
The animal is believed to have become disoriented in storms before it became stranded on the Scottish beach.
However, a SMASS spokesman said the rubbish ball was still “horrific” and highlighted what “human activities” could do.
The spokesman added: “This amount of plastic in the stomach is nonetheless horrific, must have compromised digestion, and serves to demonstrate, yet again, the hazards that marine litter and lost or discarded fishing gear can cause to marine life. It is also perhaps a good example that this is a global issue caused by a whole host of human activities.”