A large whale which washed up dead at an Angus coastal spot earlier this week is yet to be disposed of.
Angus Council has been in talks with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) and sealife experts as it considered how best to deal with the mammal which came ashore near Lunan Bay on Wednesday.
The animal, said to be a minke whale and about 20ft in length, was discovered by Arbroath joiner Lee Mitchell while he was working on a beach hut with his dad, Brian.
Experts from the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme (SMASS) said the sea creature was in an advanced state of autolysis – also known as self-digestion or post-mortem change.
Nick Davison, marine strandings coordinator at SMASS, said due to the level of decomposition, the organisation would have been unable to carry out an investigation into the cause of the whale’s death.
The Inverness-based group has recorded the whale’s death but did not travel to Angus.
Mr Davison said minke whales are very common in the North Sea and frequently wash up on Scotland’s shores.
He added that the cause of death could be old age or disease, and that the animal did not appear to have fallen victim to a marine entanglement.
“We are not attending, it was too decomposed for us,” he said.
“I think it is in the hands of the council. We’d love to be able to go and examine every animal but we don’t have the resources. With animals, like harbour porpoises, we can’t go to every animal.
“Minke whales are the most common large mammal around the Scottish coast and the UK coast.
“After harbour porpoises, minke whales are the most common stranded species along the Scottish coast. There numbers do appear to be on the increase. We are going to get more and more.
“There was no obvious evidence of entanglement, and it was too decomposed to establish a cause of death.
“It could be a natural mortality from disease or old age. Like any human or any animal, life expires and animals do die.”
He added: “There is no suggestion looking at the photos that it had been entangled and that is the most common cause of death, (they get) stuck in creel lines.”
An Angus Council spokesman said: “We have been investigating at the site and in contact with the relevant agencies with a view to arranging the safe disposal of the carcass”.
A Sepa spokesman said: “SEPA has been contacted by Angus Council regarding the burial of a whale which has been discovered on Lunan Bay.
“We will continue to work with the council to ensure that the whale is disposed of in a manner that minimises any potential risk to the environment.”