THE carcass of a sperm whale has been taken to a landfill site, days after it was washed ashore on Portobello beach in Edinburgh.

The young 30-tonne mammal was taken yesterday by lorry, with its tail sticking out, to the tip in Dunbar, East Lothian, where it is being inspected to find out the cause of death.

Marine experts said they performed a necropsy at the Dunbar site because the size of the whale meant their only option was to remove the carcass as landfill.

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Andrew Brownlow, from the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme, said: "There had been reports that the whale had been injured, possibly by a boat, but we found no evidence of that.

"We have taken various samples which we can use to piece together what happened."

Experts believe the whale was lured into the North Sea after chasing food and then became disoriented in the relatively shallow waters off the east coast.

Sperm whale tend follow the squid they feed on into northern, sub-arctic waters, especially the deep water off the Norwegian coast.

It is thought this whale was heading for the familiar waters of the Atlantic continental shelf, when the coastline funnelled it into the Firth of Forth where it became stranded on Saturday.

Mr Brownlow added: "We hope our analysis of the prey species of squid the whale fed on, together with other results, will help us explain how this deep water species ended up where it did."