Marine conservation experts yesterday backed a decision by government vets to administer a lethal injection to a young sperm whale which was stranded on a Sai Kung beach on Monday. 'It was the only thing to do to reduce its suffering,' said John Wong Man-kon, chairman of the Hong Kong Marine Conservation Society. Dr Wong and other marine experts said there was little or nothing that could have been done to save the 9.7-metre long juvenile male, which was believed to have been seriously ill before running aground. The remains were yesterday buried at Pak Min Kok near the High Island reservoir. The skeleton will later be dug up for scientific purposes. The whale, a protected species rarely seen in Hong Kong waters, apparently became stranded on the remote Tai Pan beach in Sai Kung Country Park after being separated from its pod. The distressed animal was sighted and reported to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) at 11.30am on Monday. A spokesman for the department said the stormy weather made an approach by boat impossible, and AFCD workers had to be flown in by helicopter instead. Eric Tai Hing-fung, an AFCD veterinary officer for the southern New Territories and a member of the rescue team, said he realised as soon as he arrived that the whale's prospects of survival were slim. He said: 'The blowhole was covered in water and I believe it had been covered for a long time. We tried to tilt it so that it could breathe, but we were not very successful.' He said at first the whale waved its tail from time to time and pushed air through its blowhole, but as the hours wore on the breathing slowed and tail movements faltered. 'I believe it was very sick,' he said. 'I don't know what happened to its mother, but the fact that the whale had become separated from its group indicates there must have been a problem.' By 6.30pm the whale's condition had deteriorated to the point where a decision was made to end its suffering by administering a lethal dose of anaesthetic. Ocean Park's director of zoological operations Suzanne Gendron said blood tests were expected to confirm the opinions of two government vets and an Ocean Park expert that the animal was too sick to have survived, even if the rescue operation had been a success.