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Rescued: Whales stranded in River Thames, UK January 21, 2006 8:58 AM

Stranded whale moved on to barge http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/4633878.stm PICTURES: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_pictures/4632194.stm Rescue operation A whale that was stranded in the River Thames has been moved on to a barge and is being taken back to open water. The 18ft (5m) northern bottle-nosed whale, first spotted in London on Friday, was placed in a special pontoon in shallow water near Battersea Bridge. It was then tethered close to two boats and towed to Vauxhall Bridge to a barge which is heading for the river estuary. If veterinary tests show it is healthy enough to survive, it is hoped it can be released off the south coast. However, if the whale is too weak experts may take the decision to put it down. A sighting of the whale on Saturday near Albert Bridge, in Chelsea, disappointed rescuers buoyed by an earlier report that it had been seen in Greenwich, which is closer open water. As the rescuers moved the whale applause broke out among the 3,000 onlookers some on Battersea Bridge, which had been closed, as the whale passed beneath. It is on an inflatable raft which is functioning as "makeshift whale mattress" on which it is being constantly watered down and monitored by experts. It has been given several injections including antibiotics and a vet on board the barge said the whale's condition is reasonable. Mark Stevens, from British Divers Marine Life Rescue, speaking to the BBC from the river, said the first thing vets did was carry out ultra sound tests to see how much blubber it had. See how they harnessed the whale: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/4633878.stm#graphic He said the animal's breathing is "acceptable considering the situation" and that blood tests were also carried out. He added that KY Jelly was used to stop the whale drying out. He said lifting the animal onto the barge was the "scariest thing I've ever done" in rescuing whales. Tony Woodley, spokesman for the British Divers Marine Life Rescue group, said: "This does not mean it is going to be released. Should the veterinary results be positive it would be released. "If the vet's opinion is that it's not likely to survive [a rescue attempt] we might have to euthanise the whale - but we don't want to do that."  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
 January 21, 2006 8:59 AM

The whale, which could weigh about four tonnes, was first spotted at 0830 GMT on Friday by a man on a train and has since attracted massive public and media attention. It soon became clear there was cause for concern, as the animal came within yards of the banks, almost beaching, and crashed into an empty boat, causing itself slight bleeding. The rescue teams have asked for sight-seeing boats to keep well clear and there was also concern helicopters being used to film the rescue could be disturbing the whale. There were reports of a pod of whales in the Thames estuary earlier in the week, and it was possible that the whale had become separated from this group. There was also an unconfirmed sighting of a whale in Southend in Essex on Friday. It was the first sighting of the endangered species in the Thames since records began nearly a century ago. In an unrelated incident, what is thought to be a harbour porpoise was found dead on the banks of the Thames in Puntey, south-west London, on Saturday afternoon.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
 January 21, 2006 9:01 AM

This story has been given a lot of news coverage since it first broke. People lined the banks of the River Thames to catch a glimpse of the whale. Let's hope it will survive.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
 January 21, 2006 9:18 AM

Hello Lucy. The news looks good at the moment. Have you seen it this evening? They expect the whale to be released into deep water this evening.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
 January 21, 2006 9:23 AM

really? i heard they were not sure if it was healthy enough to be released yet. i'm guessing they discovered it was. i'm some what suprised so many people turned out to help- seems there are those that care after all. i was beginning to doubt! i hope everything goes well with the release - i'm sure we'll hear soon enough. :-)  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
Hi January 21, 2006 10:44 AM

Hello, I have just been following the latest on this whale, and its not looking so good, if you can try to log on to www.sky.com/news they have a live update as well as video and pics, The whale is stressed and is experiencing muscle stiffening which is not a good sign, The vet is in constant attendance, I reckon most people are praying now for a happy ending, as am I. Love and Light to all and most of all to the whale. Angela.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
Hi January 21, 2006 11:16 AM

I am sorry to be the one to say that the whale has died on the barge this evening, sorry I cant say anymore, rather upset at the moment. Angela.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
 January 21, 2006 11:18 AM

That's very sad, but at least they did their best.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
 January 22, 2006 6:00 PM

NEXT TIME MAYBE THEY WILL TURN THE WHALE AROUND BEFORE IT TRAVLES 40 MILES DOWN THE RIVER. THAT IS JUST SAD THAT THEY WATCHED IT FOR DAYS BEFORE HELPING IT GO HOME.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
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