Orca washes up on De Panne beach

A male orca was spotted swimming off the Belgian coast on Sunday morning, the first confirmed sighting of its kind here. A few hours later, the whale washed up on the beach at De Panne and died shortly afterwards.

The orca was first seen swimming along the Belgian coast towards France. Near Saint-Idesbald, it began to come dangerously close to the coast. "We tried to discourage it with a boat, but it did not react," said Kelle Moreau of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (KBIN).

Soon after, the orca washed up on the beach at De Panne. There was no way to save the animal, Moreau said, and it died shortly afterwards. The police have set up a perimeter to keep the hundreds of spectators at a safe distance.

"It is too early to tell what went wrong, but the animal certainly does not look healthy."

An autopsy will have to show why the animal swam so close to the shore and eventually washed ashore. "It is too early to tell what went wrong, but the animal certainly does not look healthy," Moreau said.

It is very unusual for an orca to appear in the southern North Sea. In 1850, an orca is said to have beached itself in Belgium. Just over the border in the Netherlands, a female orca washed up in Cadzand in October 2022.




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