Following yesterday’s news that a sperm whale had beached itself in Norfolk, there were more grim tidings this afternoon as news broke that a whelk had been washed up on the beach at Southend in Essex and left high and dry.

Marine biologists believe that the diminutive mollusc may have been carried onto the beach by the high tide, or may have lost its bearings at sea and strayed from its customary feeding grounds.

Anxious conservationists and volunteers spent the entire day splashing thimbles of water over the stranded creature as they waited nervously, hoping that the incoming tide would  carry it back out to sea.

Fortunately, the day was saved by a 7-year-old boy, who mistook it for a pebble and picked it up before tossing it into the ocean.

The child was then borne shoulder high from the beach and treated to a slap-up meal of boiled haddock and new potatoes

In other news: A recent report from UNICEF has revealed that 16000 children have so far been killed as a direct result of the war in Syria.