Sheep, whales and bombs – the weirdest stuff to wash up on Lancashire’s beaches

There has been plenty of unusual things washed up on our coastline over the years.

Lancashire is home to some beautiful beaches, which attract millions of visitors every year.

Just this year, Blackpool beach was ranked one of the top beaches in the north. Visitors used to spotting an unusual shell, or a particularly smelly bit of seaweed on their jaunts along the coast.

However every now and then, the Irish sea produces a surprise, and washes up a huge jellyfish, or a dolphin, or even a sheep.

Here is a collection of things have washed up or been found along the Lancashire coastline in recent years.

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A Sheep

Just this week a bewildered resident stumbled across a dead sheep washed up by the sea while walking his dog over the weekend.

Martyn Houghton, 50, had been walking his dog on the beach opposite The Savoy Hotel on Queen’s Promenade on Sunday morning when his excited pup ran ahead to what Martyn assumed was a pile of rubbish. Following him down, Martyn was instead confronted by the deceased animal washed up to the shore by the tide.

Matryn had never seen something like this before, but has been old it apparently happens all the time.

A Porpoise

Porpoises have been spotted washed up on the beach multiple times over the past couple of years. Back in March 2021, HM Coastguard Lytham were called out to a deceased porpoise on St Anne’s beach.

Around the same time, a young dolphin also washed up on Larkholme Parade in Fleetwood.

Just a few months later, in August 2021, a dead porpoise has washed up on Cleveleys beach just weeks after a group of them were spotted jumping in and out of the sea.

A Seal

Back in March 2021, HM Fleetwood Coastguard were contacted by a member of the public to a carcass washed up on Rossall beach on the Cleveleys seafront.

At first, the species of the dead mammal was unclear with members speculating if it was a seal or porpoise.

The uncertainty was due to the fact that the body had been subject to a combination of decomposition, being eaten by other creatures and erosion by rocks.

However, the presence of a tell-tale bit of fur indicated that it was a young seal.

A Shark

In July 2021, two beach walkers were left shocked after coming across the remains of a shark on Blackpool beach.

The shark was found on the beach around 200m from Blackpool Pleasure Beach,. At the time, chairman of the Lancashire Marine Conservation Society, Dr Barry Kaye, said sharks are not very common across coastal waters surrounding the United Kindgom.

But in explaining what the creature was, Dr Kaye told LancsLive this particular species of shark is very much not a rarity along the country’s shores.

He said: “We are pretty sure that this is a dogfish, these are sharks – rather confusingly they are ‘Cat Sharks’. We are not sure as to the exact species.

“Dogfish are very common all around the British Isles, as a diver I come across them in daylight, when they are asleep, and very sluggish, being night time predators.”

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‘Deadly’ Portugese Man O’ War

After a bout of stormy weather in Lancashire, the Portuguese Man o’ War have been turning up on Lancashire beaches and were spotted on St Anne’s beach on the Fylde coast Back in October – November 2021.

The tentacles contain venom that are capable paralysing and killing small fish and crustaceans. A sting can cause nasty welts on exposed skin and in rare cases they have had the potential to kill a human.

The creature, which looks rather like a fluorescent jellyfish, is actually called a Portuguese Man o’ War – also known as the man-of-war, bluebottle, or blue bottle jellyfish.

Lion’s Mane Jellyfish

Just last month, swarms of Lion’s Mane jellyfish have been spotted along the coast at Blackpool.

The jellyfish, which are common in the Irish sea, use stinging tentacles to capture, pull in, and eat prey such as fish, zooplankton, sea creatures, and smaller jellyfish.

Lion’s mane jellyfish are named after their red/orange long, trailing tentacles reminiscent of a lion’s mane. The sting from this particular species of jellyfish is rarely lethal, but it can cause severe skin reactions that feel like a really bad nettle rash, according to experts.

A spokesperson from The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside confirmed the species in the photos and said: “Lots are washing up on the beaches in the North West at the moment. It is one of the largest jellyfish species. It generally grows to 30-50 cm in diameter in UK waters.

A Whale

In August 2020, a ‘smelly 15ft creature’ was found washed up on Ainsdale Beach in Southport. At the time, the person who madew the discovery said: “It was approximately 15ft long and had bones sticking out everywhere, approximately four feet long some of them. Stunk too.”

Whilst some people thought it may have been a cow, Natural England, who own and manage Ainsdale Sand Dunes National Nature Reserve, believed it knew what it was.

Stephen Ayliffe, Senior Advisor at Natural England said: ” We can animal in a poorly decomposed state has washed up on Ainsdale beach and whilst the identification of the animal is unconfirmed it appears to be a species of whale.”

A ‘bomb’

In July 2022, bomb disposal experts were summoned to the beach at Cleveleys this morning at a time when hot weather had attracted crowds to enjoy the sunshine. A cordon was erected around the item as officers from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team carried out an examination.

It ultimately proved to be a false alarm and, rather than an explosive device, they said the item was actually a box used to connect electrical wires.

Balls of tar

An oil leak off the coast of North Wales in February 2022 resulted in tar balls washing up on the beaches of Blackpool.

Tar balls are dark-colored pieces of oil that can sometimes stick to your feet when you go to the beach, and are often remnants of oil spills but can also be produced from natural seeps, places where oil slowly escapes from the earth surface above some petroleum reservoirs.

The pipeline between Conwy and Douglas on the Isle of Man was shut immediately after the leak was discovered around 33km north of Conwy.

Palm oil

Blocks of palm oil have begun appearing on the coastline around Southport after being washed up during high tides and strong winds.

The substance appears in solid lumps, is usually a yellow-white colour, and smells like diesel or firelighters. It is believed palm oil arrives on our beaches after cargo ships wash out their tanks at sea.

Palm oil most recently washed up on beaches around Southport in January 2022.

HM Coastguard Fleetwood have shared advice on what to do if a member of the public discovers a carcass on the beach. The general advice is to call the coastguard – as it is not an emergency, it is recommended you phone the local control centre in Holyhead on 01407 762051 and provide the location. The local Coastguard team will then deal with it and arrange “suitable disposal”.

  • 17:02, 3 AUG 2022