A dead Sei whale that washed ashore on a Co Down beach earlier this month will be preserved and made the centerpiece of a museum.

The whale’s skeleton, which washed up on Minerstown Beach, will be used to drive an important research project and provide a valuable display at the Ulster Museum when it finally decomposes.

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This species of whale is the third largest of the great whales and is quite rare to see around the coasts of Great Britain or Ireland.

Dr Mike Sims, senior curator of natural sciences at the National Museum Northern Ireland (NMNI), said on BBC’s Good Morning Ulster that only around a dozen sightings of this whale have been recorded around our coasts.

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“We think it came from the Arctic and has been dead for some time,” he said.

“It’s probably been drifting out to sea for months, possibly up to a year and is pretty well decomposed, the current has brought it here.”

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The whale is now buried in Delamont Country Park near Killeigh, with plans to exhume it after it decomposes and hang it in the galleries of the Ulster Museum in Belfast.

NMNI senior curator Helen James said those involved in the project wanted to bury the whale to stop the stench and also help the carcass decompose.

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“Over a period of about two and a half years we will finally dig it up, clean it, reconstruct it and hang it in the museum galleries.”

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