A PORPOISE found washed-up on the beach is likely to have been attacked by a predator, experts believe.

Guy Woodburn spotted the harbour porpoise on August 24 at Silecroft Beach. A few weeks later a porpoise with similar injuries, and in a state of decomposition, was found at Biggar Bank.

A spokesman from the Natural History Museum said the large wound on the harbour porpoise appear to have been caused by a predator such as a basking shark.

After the porpoise has washed up on Walney it is likely it was partially eaten by scavengers such as birds or foxes.

Dolphins and porpoises are among the most common strandings in the UK.

Other mammals which wash up, either in live strandings or as a result of an attack by a predator, include pygmy sperm whales, swordfish, seals, basking sharks and even humpback whales.

The UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) investigates when whales, dolphins and porpoises (collectively known as cetaceans), marine turtles and basking sharks wash up on Britain's beaches.

A spokesperson for the CSIP said: "Each year, approximately 500 cetacean strandings are reported around the UK coastline.

"The majority of these are dead strandings, with a small proportion found live stranded.

"In total, 20 species of cetacean have been recorded stranded in the UK since the inception of the CSIP in 1990, making it one of the most species diverse regions in Europe.

"The species which are most commonly reported stranded each year are the harbour porpoise, which has a UK wide coastal distribution and the short beaked common dolphin, which is predominantly found in waters off south-west England."

If a marine mammal is found alive the CSIP can be contacted on 0800 6520333.

The Coastguard should also be notified by calling the 24-hour Maritime and Coastguard Agency information line on 0870 600 6505.

Post-mortem examinations carried out on dead mammals reveal information about causes of death, diseases, environmental contaminant levels, reproductive patterns, diet and baseline data on UK populations.