The remains of a whale that became lodged on the front of a cargo ship are being examined in Portsmouth.
A port spokesman said a pilot boat spotted the dead whale trapped on the bow of the Cote d’Ivoirian Star in the Solent on Monday morning.
The ship was held for several hours off the Isle of Wight before being escorted into Portsmouth.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said a counter-pollution team was monitoring the situation.
The Liberian-registered vessel, carrying a cargo of tropical fruit, was on its way from Senegal to Portsmouth.
Ben McInnes, Portsmouth International Port’s harbourmaster said it was unclear where the collision occurred or whether the whale was already dead when it came into contact with the ship.
James Robbins, from the University of Portsmouth, has studied whale collisions with ships.
He said the mammal could have become disorientated and found its way into the English Channel shipping lanes, or it may have been struck in the Bay of Biscay where whales are known to gather.
“Ship strike is massively under-reported. Many times crews of large ships might not know they have hit a whale,” he said.
“When an unfortunate thing like this happens, it’s a useful learning experience for all involved.”