The orca, who got stranded on a beach in the Netherlands on Saturday, has died shortly before midnight. There was still a bit of hope that the animal could be pushed back into the sea again, Annemarie van den Berg of animal welfare organization SOS Dolfijn told local media Omroep Zeeland.
“But for that, a specialized veterinarian from the (Dutch) ministry had to give the green light, but he concluded that such a rescue attempt had no chance of success,” Van den Berg said.
“We don’t know exactly what she had yet. But it was clear that she was ill,” she said. A veterinarian gave the orca narcotics to make her death painless. “You would call this palliative sedation in a human being,” Van den Berg said, emphasizing that the veterinarian did not kill the orca.
Shortly afterwards, the dead orca was removed from the beach with a shovel and prepared for transport to the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Utrecht University. Researchers will study the animal to find out what illness she had.
Helaas heeft de orka het niet gered. Na een korte doodstrijd is ze ingeslapen op het strand. SOS Dolfijn is alle hulpverleners ontzettend dankbaar. Ook dank voor alle lieve berichtenen medeleven. pic.twitter.com/TjyKWvntBv— SOSDolfijn (@SOSDolfijn) October 15, 2022
SOS Dolfijn received reports around 3.30 pm that an orca, was lying on the beach near Cadzand. When an orca or killer whale gets stranded in the Netherlands -which rarely happens- the so-called ‘whale protocol’ goes into effect.
Option one is to push the orca back into the sea. That had already been tried earlier in the day, but the killer whale got stranded again. That is why the specialized vet first had to investigate whether the orca was fit enough to try again.
Option two would be to take the orca into captivity so that she could recover, but the 5.5-meter-long animal was too big for that. There are no locations in the Netherlands to accommodate such a big animal.
Then, according to the whale protocol, there were only two options left: do nothing and see how it turns out or put the animal to sleep, options three and four. The orca eventually died on her own with some anaesthesia, according to Van den Berg.
It is rare for an orca to wash up on the Dutch coast. The last time was in 2010 when orca Morgan was removed from the Wadden Sea in a weakened condition and taken to the animal park Dolphinarium in Harderwijk.
A year later, Morgan was transferred to the animal park Loro Parque in Tenerife. In 2021, Dutch media said that Morgan, who is deaf, was used to perform in shows at the park.