The public are being warned to stay away from a dead giant whale that washed ashore in the Outer Hebrides yesterday amid fears that it could explode.
The badly-decomposed animal is believed to be a humpback whale.
Humpback whales were once hunted to the brink of extinction in Scottish waters, but in recent years the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust has noticed an increase in the number of sightings. Though still relatively rare there were more than 20 last year.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said a member of the public had raised the alarm at 9.40am after coming across the whale on a beach in Benbecula.
The local coastguard rescue team were sent and Western Isles Council and the Receiver of Wreck have been notified.
A spokeswoman from the MCA warned:”This is obviously a very distressing scene and we would ask the public to stay at a safe distance from the whale, for their own safety.”
In January last year a 50 ft fin whale exploded during a grisly autopsy in Skegness, Lincolnshire.
The 30-tonne whale let out a “huge blast of air” as marine biologists carried out a post-mortem. Two smaller calves were discovered side by side two-and-a-half miles away.
Decomposing whales build up huge amounts of gas.