An injured baby minke whale is struggling to find his way home in London

A baby whale was rescued after being stranded in the River Thames in London, but he is still not safe, photo: David Korsaks
A baby whale was rescued after being stranded in the River Thames in London, but he is still not safe, photo: David Korsaks/Reuters

A three-meter injured minke whale calf was seen swimming upstream in the River Thames on Monday in London, just hours after rescuers saved his life by refloating him. The young whale is heading in the wrong direction and might not survive.

The stranded whale was first spotted on Sunday after he beached on concrete in London’s River Thames. Rescuers worked for hours to refloat the calf and then towed him a mile (1.6 kilometers) downstream.

But the whale is swimming in the wrong direction, away from the sea. “He’s run out of river to be honest – he has got nowhere to go unless he turns back and swims the right way,” said Martin Garside, a spokesman from Port of London Authority.

“That whale’s life hangs in the balance: he is injured, he is very young, and so far from home,” Garside added. “This animal comes from the northern North Sea. The whale is a hundred miles from the opening to the North Sea in the Thames Estuary.”

Minke whales don’t usually appear in the River Thames, and it’s not clear why the minke calf is so far from home. There’s also no sign of his mother.

“This whale could have become lost while following prey, or could be ill or injured,” Danny Groves of Whale and Dolphin Conservation told Reuters.

Groves explained that many whales and dolphins get into difficulty because they get hit by a vessel at sea, injured in fishing nets or driven in the wrong direction 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,” Groves added.

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