Tuesday 6 December 2016

Whale 'in great distress' must wait to die

Lynne Kelleher

Published 20/08/2011 | 05:00

Onlookers gather on a sandspit near Dungarvan, Co Waterford, where a sperm whale has beached
Onlookers gather on a sandspit near Dungarvan, Co Waterford, where a sperm whale has beached
Water is poured on the whale

A WHALE stranded on a beach has no hope of survival and will die within days.

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The 35ft-long sperm whale beached yesterday morning on a sandspit outside Dungarvan in Co Waterford.

It was first spotted on Thursday off the coast of Wexford and experts tracked its weary 100-mile swim along the east coast until it eventually beached.

It is far from its home in deep waters and experts from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) believe the animal is sick or starving and has no chance of survival.

"He's washed up and he's alive," Andrew Malcolm from the IWDG said.

"It could take hours or more than a day for him to die. He is in a great deal of distress.

"He will die of starvation or from his own weight collapsing his lungs.

"It's an adult male and we think he's probably sick or has probably got some disease," he said.

The whale experts knew the deep-sea animal was in serious trouble when it was swimming so close to land.

"It is extremely rare for this deep-sea animal to be seen on the east coast," Mr Malcolm said.

"They are usually spotted off the west coast but not near to the shore."

He said a preliminary examination of the animal showed signs that he could have been starving.

"He looks very thin. He could even have starved to death. He's not in the proper place for sperm whales and he could have just ended up somewhere where there was no food for him."

He said it was impossible to euthanise such a big whale in Ireland.

"It's hard to say how long it takes them to die.

"The only way to euthanise an animal that size is by using a product illegal in Ireland called Immobilien.

"You have to let the whale alone and just let nature take its course," Mr Malcolm added.

The last live stranded sperm whale was in Magheroarty, Co Donegal, in April 2007.

The last stranded sperm whale in the east coast was in September 1993 at Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford.

Irish Independent

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