The baby minke whale which was stranded in the Thames has been euthanised.
The whale, which was rescued in the early hours of Monday morning after getting beached by Richmond Lock & Weir, broke free from the rescue team near Isleworth and continued to swim further up stream before becoming stuck in Teddington.
On Monday afternoon The British Divers Marine Life Rescue said the juvenile minke whale in the River Thames had “deteriorated rapidly” and had to be put down to “end its suffering”.
— James R Macdonald (@TabbyGentleman) May 10, 2021
The whale is around three to four metres long and was stranded at Richmond Lock & Weir for over six hours on the evening of Sunday 9 May.
A rescue crew composed of staff from Chiswick Lifeboat, the Port of London Authority, London Fire Brigade, British Marine Life Rescue and specialist vets arrived at the scene at roughly 9.00pm. The whale then broke free from its rescue vessel at around 1.00am on Monday (10 May).
Images above: the whale was kept wet by a Port of London Authority worker until the rescue crew arrived (left), the whale being examined by a specialist vet (right) (Photos: Richard Frank, Sunday 9 May)
Images above: the rescue team were there until the early hours of Monday morning (10 May) to refloat the whale who eventually escaped from the inflatable rescue vessel (Photos: Richard Frank)
Numerous onlookers gathered at Teddington to keep an eye out for the whale as it swam upstream.
Whale watching in Teddington, hundreds here to try and spot the stranded small whale that’s in the Thames 🌊 pic.twitter.com/qzFOw8D7sy
— Ashna Hurynag (@ashnahurynag) May 10, 2021
Speaking to Reuters after Monday morning’s rescue, Martin Garside from the Port of London Authority, which operates Richmond Lock, said he thought it was the furthest a whale had ever been known to swim up the Thames. Mr Garside warned that as the river is far narrower upstream, the whales’ chances of survival would be reduced.
Gareth Furby arrived at the scene in Richmond when the whale was already stranded. He described how difficult it was for the rescue team to pacify the whale. Footage he captured showed the whale struggling to release itself from the rescue vessel.
Gareth told The Chiswick Calendar: “The Divers Marine Life Rescue team was moving in gear and deciding what to do. With the RNLI team they tried to lift and move it back off the concrete slip first with what looked to be a sheet on canvas, but the whale thrashed around and it was clear that technique wasn’t going to work.”
A reminder of the effort involved in the rescue overnight moving a Minke whale off the concrete slip at Richmond Lock on the River Thames in London. The question now: is the whale healthy enough to survive a further move back to sea? #whale #rescue #london #Richmond #thames pic.twitter.com/ewYKaxWMoN
— Gareth Furby (@GarethFurby) May 10, 2021
Minke whales are the smallest type of whale and typically grow to about 10m long.
They are usually found in the northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans but can be found at the ice edge in the Arctic during the summer and south, near to the equator, during the winter.
In 2019 three dead whales were found in the Thames, including a minke and a humpback.
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