Published Saturday, 14 September 2013
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Fishermen spotted the Sei whale when it came ashore early on Saturday morning in the Red Bay area, and alerted the coastguard.
It is believed the young whale may have lost its mother or become ill and swam into the coastline at Waterfoot, Cushendall.
Scores of onlookers watched as the mammal struggled to get back into the water before it died.
The coastguard said efforts are underway to retrieve the remains.
Eyewitness Steven McAuley said everything was done to try and save the whale.
He told UTV: "There was a call shortly after 8am to say there was a stricken whale on the beach.
"At the time it wasn't clear the scale of it.
"It's about 25ft in length and probably over four or five tonne in weight."
It's just sad that the whale could not be saved.
"It was spotted early on, but it was still in the water at that stage and it wasn't until around 8am it was beached near the pier at Red Bay."
He went on: "After that the Ballycastle coastguard team made their way down.
"They made some efforts to see if they could refloat it, but the weight and position at that stage just made it impossible.
"There is very little anyone could do because of the sheer weight of the thing and unfortunately it appears to have died."
He added: "It is a spectacular size, and an unusual scene for the area. It's not an everyday thing.
"At one stage so many people came down to the area the police had to be called in for traffic control."
The Sei whale has died from suffocation, an expert believes.
Ian Enlander, from the Irish Whale and Dolphin organisation, said: "It was probably travelling with its mother and has become separated.
"It probably became disorientated and became trapped."
Sei whales are commonly found in the deep waters of the Atlantic.
"It's a very rare species in Irish waters so it's an opportunity to get a specialist in here to carry out a full post-mortem on it to try an understand better what the cause of death was but also to get some basic information about the state of the animal as well," Mr Enlander told UTV.
© UTV News