Hope begins to fade for fin whale stranded in Baltimore Harbour


HOPES WERE fading last night for a 14m fin whale which swam into Baltimore Harbour in west Cork yesterday morning and stayed virtually motionless at the bottom of the pier all day.

Spectators gathered to see the huge mammal, which is second in size only to the blue whale.

The adult whale, which swam in at 7am, resisted attempts by fishermen to coax it back into open waters early yesterday morning and made no effort to swim back itself despite remaining in about 2m of water at high tide.

Spokesman for the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group Pádraig Whooley said the whale’s behaviour suggested it was very unwell and would almost certainly die.

“If this was a healthy whale he could probably reverse himself out so it suggests he is very sick.

“It looks quite thin so it hasn’t been feeding and when they are weak they are not able to navigate,” he said.

“Normally they would know to keep a healthy distance from these dangerous environments. It would be more usual to see them offshore in waters of 50m to 100m depths.”

Mr Whooley said there was nothing they could do to rescue or assist the whale due to its size.

“We’ve considered animal euthanasia but it’s too big and, because of its location, a vet couldn’t get access to it. It’s unfortunate for people – they have to witness it. People can’t understand why we can’t do anything.”

But Mr Whooley said he would not describe it as a tragedy. “It’s a wild animal dying. Wild animals die all the time in nature.”

If the whale dies, a major operation will be mounted to transport it by road to a marine biology centre in Waterford.

On a positive note, Mr Whooley said there had been an increase in whale strandings in recent times, which reflected a rise in whales off the Irish coast, especially in the south.