Australia Baby minke whale dies after beaching itself near Port Lincoln hours after initial rescue

07:10  10 december  2019
07:10  10 december  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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A baby minke whale has died after beaching itself for the second time within hours, despite the desperate rescue efforts of volunteers.

The 2.5-metre mammal initially became stranded in shallow water near Port Lincoln on South Australia's Eyre Peninsula and was spotted about 7:15pm last night.

A passing boat user raised the alarm and stayed with the animal, along with volunteers, for several hours until it swam away when the tide came in — a moment caught on camera.

However, jubilation has since turned into tragedy, with rescuers forced to euthanase the animal after it was found to have beached itself again this morning.

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — More than 140 pilot whales died after beaching themselves in southern New Zealand, with half being euthanized by conservation workers in a “deeply saddening” decision after their discovery came too late to rescue them, officials said Monday.

"It's heartbreaking," National Parks and Wildlife regional manager Tim Hall said.

"We suspected that it might not end so well. We do have some experience with strandings and it's not uncommon for re-strandings to happen.

"There was a sizeable external wound on it but no indication that was the cause of its sickness."

Mr Hall said it was uncommon for dwarf minke whales to be found in South Australian waters, and is hoping the SA Museum will conduct an autopsy.

The whale was first spotted by Sylvia Dansie, who was on an anchored boat at nearby Spalding Cove in Port Lincoln National Park.

"There was a flurry in the water and I looked across and there was a swirl … I thought 'is that a seal or a dolphin?'" she told ABC Eyre Peninsula.

"I thought something must have been chasing fish because there was a lot of splashing and I saw a long shape, and then nothing.

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Hunstanton Coastguard Rescue Team said it was called to Heacham Beach near the town at about 11:00 GMT. A Facebook post said: "If you see this mammal on the beach after the tide has gone out please keep all dogs, children and yourselves well away from it."

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"Then I noticed a black shape up on the other end of the beach, so I went to investigate thinking it might be a seal and it was in fact a small whale."

Whale may have been chased by shark

Ms Dansie said she was amazed at how far up the beach the baby whale had reached and suspected it may have been chased by a predator.

"I actually think it was chased ashore by a shark … I think it was escaping," she said.

Ms Dansie said help arrived by about 9:00pm from marine rescue volunteers and the Port Lincoln State Emergency Service (SES).

Port Lincoln SES manager Max Coulson said his unit received reports of a baby whale beached in the national park just after 8:00pm.

"We don't get a whale rescue very often," he said.

Mr Coulson said volunteers and members of the public were able to keep the animal comfortable with buckets of water until the tide came in a few hours later.

"It was definitely breathing and it was definitely alive but it was beached in shallow water, it was about 100 metres offshore," he said.

"We were advised by [the] National Parks [and Wildlife Service] not to touch the animal at all and just to provide comfort by putting buckets of water over the top of it."

The whale was able to swim off after 11:00pm as the tide came in, but was spotted by national park staff this morning, close to where it initially beached.

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