The Fishguard Whale

Northern bottlenose whale

Now you might be forgiven for thinking that the only whale associated with Fishguard and Goodwick was Moby Dick but you would be wrong!!

In September 1936 the County Echo reported on a great excitement as a whale was spotted trapped in the inner harbour at Fishguard.  Apparently the mammal was initially thought to be a shark and so a number of local men including the customs officer rowed out to it and shot and killed it.

There was a huge outcry about their actions and even the local Police were involved; However they were subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing when a curator from the Natural History  Museum arrived to view the carcase and indicated that their actions had been humane, in that the animal would not have survived being stranded – they relieved it of an inevitable stressful and painful death.

The whale was identified as a female northern bottlenose whale measuring 21ft 8″ long and the event was given the National Strandings Reference Number SW.1936/28.  The body of the animal  was sent to the Natural History Museum in London where the skull and skeleton were prepared and preserved as part of  the national research collection and the intestinal tract was preserved in alcohol for study purposes. A model was created of the body of the animal and this still exists in the Cetacea collection of the Natural History Museum today.

So almost 90 years later a one time visitor to Fishguard can still be found safely stored and catalogued in the dark depths of the Museum in South Kensington.


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