August 5, 2008

Mystery Corpse ‘Could Be Walrus’


The corpse of a mystery mammal washed up on a Brixham beach has been removed by council officials.

Marine experts were unable to identify the exact species of the animal from pictures. While council officials believe it is a sea lion, and coastguards have called it a seal, experts say it could even be a walrus.

Phillip Knowling, a spokesman for Living Coasts, said: "It's impossible for animal experts to make a positive identification simply from a single close-up photograph.

"It appears to be decomposing and this also makes the task more difficult.

"There do not appear to be any ears - if this is the case then it cannot be a pinniped such as a sea lion.

"There is a chance that it is the body of a walrus that has come down from the north.

"The chances of it being an elephant seal or fur seal are pretty remote, but you cannot rule anything out at this stage."

Council beach employees moved the seven foot rotting corpse from St Mary's beach, Brixham after it was discovered by council employees on Friday.

Holidaymakers Carla Crossley, 31 and her boyfriend Andy Adams, 25, from Newcastle said they believed the decomposing body had been there for a couple of days.

The couple had been staying at Upton Manor Farm campsite and had come to the cove to sunbath and paddle, when they saw the corpse. Carla, said: "I was shocked to see it there because it is not what you expect. It had to have been there for a couple of days and it was starting to smell. It was huge."

The animal, estimated to weigh one and a half tonnes was hauled out to sea by council trucks, before being picked up the council patrol boat Oscar 4 to be disposed of on Saturday.

Simon Wallace, Torbay Council's resort officer for beaches explained the staff aboard the patrol boat, 'broke up' the corpse before weighing it down and sinking it to dispose of it naturally.

Mr Wallace said porpoises 'have been known' to wash up on Torbay's beaches and in October 2004 a 40ft fin whale' body washed up at a Brixham beach, requiring a barge to remove it out to sea so it could decompose naturally.

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