An investigation has identified the deceased Portsmouth whale as a juvenile fin whale.
The animal, which was first reported on 30th December, was found draped across the bow of the Cote D'Ivorian Star, a cargo vessel carrying tropical fruit from Senegal.
The Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) conducted a field examination which found the animal was a 17.1m long juvenile fin whale which was described as being in "good nutritional condition." The animal appears to have been struck whilst still alive, and CSIP conclude that ship strike is the most likely cause of death.
The shocking incident is a stark reminder of the increasing threat ship strike poses to marine life, and underlines the importance of ORCA's research, which aims to address the issue.
ORCA Director, Sally Hamilton, said: "Though on this occasion the ship did exactly the right thing and made the relevant authorities aware of the animal, unfortunately too often these incidents go unreported. Ship strike is a growing threat and fin whales are one of the species at highest risk from this issue.
"ORCA are working with Brittany Ferries to better understand how we can prevent tragic incidents like this occurring in the future, and we will continue this work in the hope that we can help reduce the number of whales that are killed in this way."
The report comes on the same day as news of another dead whale on the UK coastline, with a sperm whale dying after stranding near to the shore of the Moray Firth. The animal, thought to be a 20m long male, was seen in distress and teams from British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) and the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme (SMASS) attended the scene.
However, given the size and species of the animal in question there was little that could be done and the animal unfortunately died. Reports suggest the animal was thin and in poor condition, with a necropsy due to take place to establish the specific cause of this latest sad incident.