Storm Freya: headless sea creature washes up on Rustington beach after storm

A headless sea creature has washed up on Rustington beach following last night's storm.

Monday, 4th March 2019, 4:24 pm
Updated Monday, 4th March 2019, 4:50 pm
The headless mammal drew a lot of attention this morning on Rustington beach

The south coast was buffeted with rain and winds of up to 50mph as Storm Freya arrived last night.

This morning, Rustington resident Debbie Allen went out for a run along the seafront at around 8.30am when she spotted the mystery creature lying on the beach.

She said: "I was in a bit of shock really; I wasn't expecting to see anything like that.

"I went towards it as I wasn't sure if it was alive, but it was only when I saw it had no head that I knew it was dead.

"I thought if it was alive, I would have pushed it back into the sea."

The 5ft-long creature, which had washed up on the section of beach opposite Sea Lane, Rustington, attracted a lot of attention. When Debbie ran back along the beach, she noticed the corpse was gone, having seen an official wearing a high-vis jacket walking up to the body.

Academics weighed in on what the decapitated creature could be.

Dr Frazer Coomber, a research fellow in Evolution, Behaviour and Environment at the University of Sussex, said he was 'pretty certain' that it was a harbour porpoise, due to the uniform colour with no scars or markings visible, no distinctive beak, a small tail and a small dorsal fin.

Dr Corina Ciocan, a marine biologist at the University of Brighton, said she thought it 'may be a dolphin which has been dead for some time and the carcass has been eaten by scavengers'.

She said that anyone finding corpses like this 'can report it to the Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority who keep a log of such incidents and can investigate anything unusual'.