Stranded calf whale freed after 8 hour battle

By Laura Brown - 07 Sep 2011 9:45:10 GMT
Stranded calf whale freed after 8 hour battle

A calf whale who became stranded off the English coast after becoming separated from its mother has been freed after an 8 hour rescue effort by emergency services.

The young whale, believed to be a minke whale, was spotted in the Humber on the Lincolnshire coast. It had become beached on mud flats within the river. As the tide flowed out it became stranded.

The RNLI joined with divers, the RSPCA as well as fire and rescue working until mid afternoon to free the creature which was 27 feet long.

One of the rescue team commented that it appeared one of the whale's flipper's had become wedged in the mud. Concern grew during the rescue effort as it became lethargic but as the tide flowed back in it became more active and managed to free itself.

Jan Richardson from  the Humber Coastguard was one of the 50 strong team of rescuers who watched the young whale swim away. She said: "It was quite a thing to watch actually and it was a really nice feeling.

"It splashed about in one place for a couple of minutes, disappeared under water and then the next we saw it further out towards the jetty. There was a splash and then it disappeared.

"I was absolutely elated."

Earlier in the day the whale's mother had been spotted swimming in the middle of the river. Rescuers were hoping the young calf would reunite with her but knew they would have to monitor the area to ensure it did not get beached again as Coastguard Paul Hutson explained, "hopefully it has floated free and with a bit of luck has been reunited with its mother. The test will be as darkness falls and there is low water."

Although the initial news of the calf being freed was positive, the last known sightings of the whale saw it swimming the wrong way, up the River Humber, instead of out to sea.

Minke whales are not commonly spotted off the Lincolnshire coast, although it is an area popular with porpoises and grey seals.

A video of the rescue is available on the BBC News website.

Top Image Credit: Minke Whale © RR Rossler