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Injured whale left to die off China’s south coast after failed rescue attempts

Marine mammal freed from fishing net but assessed as too injured to return to sea

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 March, 2017, 1:45pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 March, 2017, 1:45pm

An injured whale has been left to die on a southern China coast after three day of efforts failed to guide it back to the ocean.

The 12-meter-long sperm whale with an injured was assessed by experts to have a slim chance of survival as it lacked the strength to swim back to deep sea with an injured tail as it lingered off the coast at Daya Bay in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, on Wednesday noon.

Experts ruled out euthanising the whale through injecting poison, which could pollute surrounding seawater. The use of a gun or explosives would damage the marine mammal’s body, preventing future study, so experts decided to let it die naturally, Guangzhou Daily reported.

The whale still showed signs of life as of Wednesday noon, yet it had hardly moved from Tuesday midnight from a spot about 10 meters offshore, the report said.

Assessed to weigh three tonnes, the whale was noticed by a nearby diving group on Sunday caught in a fishing net off Huizhou Harbour. Its tail was severely injured when it was found.

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Joint efforts by marine experts, local fishery authorities and fishermen freed the whale from the net and they tried to use sonar equipment to guide the whale back to the deep sea.

The whale remained near the shore and experts believed its sonar system – by which whales find food and navigate – was also damaged. It only swam as far as Daya Bay, another coastal area in Shenzhen.

Experts from Hong Kong’s Ocean Park said the whale only catches food in deep waters, so it had been hungry and had lost the strength to swim.

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A group of divers from a whale lovers WeChat group, who volunteered to help rescue the whale, named it “Wave” in their group.

“Wave is too seriously injured, it is so sad ... but we have tried our best,” a member named “Diving lover.CR” said in a public conversation on the messaging app.