Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

'Too thin' stranded whale put down

A 26ft minke whale washed up after gale force winds and high seas at Druridge Bay, Northumberland

A 26ft (8m) minke whale has been put down after it stranded on a North Sea beach.

Experts from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) charity went to its aid when it was found in Druridge Bay, Northumberland, at around 7am on Wednesday. A vet was also called out and the whale was assessed as being too thin to be returned to the sea.

Veterinary surgeon Sam Prescott said: "I received a call saying someone had found a whale stranded on the beach. Others had ascertained that it wasn't going to be viable for a refloat and so the most humane thing to do was going to be euthanasia.

"Myself and other vets have now done that and it's now a case of salvaging the whale and making it available for post-mortem. We don't know yet what's caused it. It's an adult whale and its condition is not fantastic and it may well have been sick prior to stranding. I've not encountered a minke whale stranding in this area at all before."

Earlier, BDMLR operations director Stephen Marsh said that they would not attempt to refloat the whale.

"It is too thin, it hasn't got any muscle on it at all, and the last thing we do is put an animal back in the sea that's likely to suffer and come back again," he said from the charity's headquarters in Uckfield, East Sussex.

Northumberland County Council said the 10-tonne whale was "humanely destroyed" after it was found to be in great distress. Crews from Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service kept it as comfortable as possible by spraying it with water and covering it in wet blankets.

Fire service spokesman Andy Railton said he hoped the whale could have been refloated at high tide, but it was decided a rescue attempt would have been wrong.

"It is a shame to see such a magnificent animal washed up and helpless on the beach," he said. "It is very frustrating but although we tried our best, and followed all the advice from the vets and experts present, we couldn't help it."

Beached whales are the property of the Queen, and the Receiver of the Wrecks has been informed. Its carcass will be removed overnight and locals have been asked to stay away while this is carried out.

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