A dead 40-foot fin whale has washed up on a beach in Norfolk, while the public have been advised to stay away from the mammal's carcass.

The whale, which is from an endangered species that has declined in population over the years from commercial whaling, is believed to have died before it reached Holkham beach on the north coast of Norfolk.

A spokeswoman for the Holkham Estate told the Press Association: "On Thursday afternoon, a dead 40ft fin whale was washed up on Holkham Beach, part of Holkham National Nature Reserve, on the north Norfolk coast.

"Wardens from the reserve have reported the whale to the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) who hope to carry out a post-mortem to establish cause of death."

The dead fin whale follows a string of beachings in Norfolk earlier this year, with a number of sperm whales washing up on the county's beaches — although in the majority of cases the whales were alive when they reached the shore and died after they were unable to get back out to sea.

The remains of the fin whale will stay on the beach overnight before being removed for the post-mortem to be carried out.

"Plans are in place to remove the whale from the beach. Holkham Beach remains open but we advise the public not to venture close to the carcass and to keep dogs on leads," the Holkham spokesperson added.