LONDON - Marine biology experts will today try to solve the mystery of why a 44ft sperm whale died after getting disorientated off the North-East coast.

A team from London is due in Redcar, east Cleveland, this morning, to examine the body of the whale which washed ashore yesterday.

Despite the efforts of the Coastguard, RNLI and fire services the huge marine mammal could not be saved.

Richard Ilderton, a volunteer for the British Divers Marine Life Rescue, said it would not have been able to survive in the North Sea even if rescuers had managed to re-float the 20- tonne whale at high tide.

In an attempt to keep it alive, firefighters sprayed water on the whale after it was left stranded as the tide went out.

A cordon was erected around the stricken animal while hundreds of people descended on Redcar yesterday to watch events unfold.

Mr Ilderton, who co-ordinated the operation to try to save the whale, as well as the task of disposing of its carcass, said: "It is quite unusual to see sperm whales in the North Sea, however, this is the second one stranded this year.

They usually live in the North and South Atlantic where the ocean is deeper and there is sufficient food.

"The whale was spotted at about 6am but, sadly, it died at about 9am. Even if we had been able to re-float the whale it would have probably died of starvation because there isn't enough food for it in the North Sea."

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