The Telehandler & The Whale

On the morning of the 26th of December 2020 the telehandler belonging to The Watering Hole sadly ended up being claimed by the sea while retrieving a whale carcass from the beach.

This was like a bizarre ransom exchange between the natural and the human worlds, in which the sea gave up the body of one of its magnificent creatures and a state-of-the-art machine was substituted in its place.

I happened to be on the beach with my drone in my backpack, and captured some video footage which ended up being used by the BBC and BBC Spotlight.



Like many families we were on the beach for a post-Christmas Day walk (technically Boxing Day was not until the following Monday in 2020). I saw the telehandler drive past carrying a mattress that it had retrieved from the river.

 When I next looked off Cotty's point the telehandler appeared to be in the shallows! I didn't think too much of it until a truck and a tractor raced towards it about 15 minutes later.


tractor in sea perranporth beach

 Telehandler in the Sea by Jamie Turnbull

It soon became clear that the telehandler was stuck in the sea and that it was too late to rescue it. A sad sight, as this machine is used to remove rubbish from the beach. All we could do is stand and watch as the sea slowly covered first the body and then the cab of the vehicle. (In the above shot the remains of the whale can just be seen on the shoreline).


stranded whale perranporth beach

 Telehandler Top Down by Jamie Turnbull

While shooting I actually had no idea that there was a whale carcass on the beach. It was only once I landed the drone that I found out - luckily this shot captured the whale in the far left of the picture.



The telehandler was retrieved the following day by the excavation equipment of RJ Trevail, but not before another cycle of the tide - by which time the sea had washed the sand from underneath the wheels. As a result the telehandler had tipped over, and was full of sand. Hopefully it will be back working on the beach one day soon!

By Jamie Turnbull