Whale rescued from fishing nets dies week later in Spain

A long whale on beach, animal news
A dead humpback whale on beach in Valencia, Spain, May 27, 2022, credit: Reuters/Eva Manez

A humpback whale, who was freed from entanglement in fishing nets off the island of Mallorca, was found stranded on Thursday on a beach in Valencia in Spain. The animal died on the beach.

“We are pretty sure that is the same whale [that they rescued on May 20]. She has gone swimming from Mallorca to Valencia’s coast to end up dying,” Hector Gago, press officer at environmental organization Xaloc, said.

“These animals go after their food, coming from the north of the world, from the Arctic, they pass through the Strait of Gibraltar and go after the food. Climate change could be the reason for that,” Gago said.

A team of divers had freed the 14-metre (46-foot) humpback whale from fishing nets after she was first spotted by a ship off the coast of Mallorca.

“There are still ghost nets [fishing nets that have been abandoned] in our oceans. There are new legislations from the year 2000, but in the end, the nets are still at the bottom of the ocean,” Gago said.

The whale immediately swam away when divers freed her, but she sadly passed away a week later. “It is horrible. This has been really depressing,” said marine biologist Gigi Torras, who took part in the original rescue.

The animal was still alive when she was stranded on Tavernes de la Valldigna beach. Specialists from the Oceanography Foundation examined the whale and said she was extremely weak and had several cuts on her dorsal fin.

They decided the whale would not survive a return to the sea, and she died soon afterwards. “We would have caused more injuries and made her condition worse, and she would possibly have been back on the sand the next day,” Jose Luis Crespo, head of conservation at the Oceanography Foundation, said in a statement.

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