Thames Whale updates: Vets to put down whale 'suffering quite badly' near Richmond Lock

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Thames Whale updates: Vets to put down whale 'suffering quite badly' near Richmond Lock

The River Thames is not the typical place you’d expect to see a whale, however, the RNLI and Marine Life Rescue services had been growing increasin

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The River Thames is not the typical place you’d expect to see a whale, however, the RNLI and Marine Life Rescue services had been growing increasingly concerned about a three-metre minke whale calf in the river. First spotted on Sunday night at Richmond Lock, the whale calf had been seen swimming in the wrong direction, away from its natural sea habitat.

On Sunday night the whale calf – which was seen to be injured – was refloated by a team of rescuers from the Port of London Authority, Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI), British Divers Marine Life Rescue, London Fire Brigade and the police.

The team took several hours to refloat it and then towed it a mile downstream.

The natural habitat of the whale is the north Atlantic, and separated from its mother rescuers are concerned about its future.

Martin Garside, a spokesman from Port of London Authority said: “He’s run out of river to be honest – he has got nowhere to go unless he turns back and swims the right way.”

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Unfortunately, a vet will now put the whale down after its condition deteriorated.

The prospects for its survival diminished an official for the organisation coordinating the rescue bid said this afternoon.

Julia Cable, National Co-ordinator at British Divers Marine Life Rescue said: “They’re going to put the whale to sleep.

“It’s suffering quite badly, it has been for about the last 45 minutes.”

Julia Cable told members of the media the animal stranded at Teddington Lock in southwest London will be given a “large anaesthetic dose”.

She said: “The vets are here from London Zoo. They will give the whale a large anaesthetic dose which will put it to sleep. It’s as straight forward as that.

“The vets explained to me they will inject it near the liver and the anaesthetic will slowly go through the system. I can’t tell you how long that will be.

“The whale shouldn’t feel anything. They are just putting it to sleep.”

“The whale is a hundred miles from the opening to the North Sea in the Thames Estuary.

“There is no obvious sign of his mother.”

Minke whales are the smallest of all baleen whales, reaching eight to nine metres (26-30 feet) long.

The whales prefer cooler temperatures and enjoy a varied diet of krill and schooling fish, according to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation group.

They are not usually seen in the River Thames and it was not immediately clear why the minke calf was so far from its normal habitat.

However, experts have suggested the young whale may have become disorientated while hunting or may be unwell.

Danny Groves of Whale and Dolphin Conservation said: “This whale could have become lost whilst following prey, or could be ill or injured.

“Equally, many whales and dolphins get into difficulty because they may have been struck by a vessel at sea, injured in fishing nets, driven off course by loud underwater noise from seismic surveys for oil or gas, or loud underwater sonar from military exercises.

“This poor individual is way off course and still faces a struggle to get back out to sea.”



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