The injured minke whale calf who became stranded in London’s River Thames was euthanised on Monday. His health was declining, and he was having a hard time finding his way back to the ocean.
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 was seen swimming in the wrong direction, away from the sea, and became stuck again. Authorities decided to put the baby whale down.
“They’re going to put the whale to sleep. It’s suffering quite badly,” Julia Cable, national coordinator at British Divers Marine Life Rescue, said on Monday. The whale was given an overdose of anaesthetic.
Cable said he didn’t feel anything except the needle: “We’re just trying to ease any suffering.” The Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) later confirmed the whale had passed away.
Cable said that it looked like the calf still needed his mother, but she was nowhere to be seen. If they hadn’t put the baby down, he wouldn’t have been able to eat and would starve.
“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,” Martin Garside, a spokesman from Port of London Authority, said on Sunday.
Minke whales don’t usually appear in the River Thames, and it’s not clear why the minke calf was so far from home.
“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 or injured in fishing nets.
They’re also driven in the wrong direction by loud underwater noise from seismic surveys for oil or gas, or loud underwater sonar from military exercises.
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