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Divers battle to save 15-ton beached sperm whale
By David Millward
(Filed: 22/03/2004)


Rescuers last night fought to help a young sperm whale swim back out to sea after it had beached on the Lincolnshire coast.

But, as high tide passed, it was still stuck on a sandbank despite being covered by water. At the height of the rescue, the whale was surrounded by 13 divers trying to ease it back into the sea.

They will return early this morning to try again.

"That has got to be the last hope to try to save this animal," said Tony Woodley, a spokesman for British Divers Marine Life Rescue.

Even if they were successful, experts warned it would be some days before they would know whether the the 15-ton mammal had survived.

The whale was spotted shortly after 10am yesterday at Mark Knock Sands, Sutton Bridge, on the Wash. It is the third whale to have been stranded ashore in the area in recent months. The other two died.

A Coastguard spokesman said: "We believe it swam ashore, because the wind has been blowing strongly in the other direction for the last few days. Normally when this happens, it is because the whale is in some distress."

Volunteers from British Divers Marine Life Rescue and the RSPCA joined the Hunstanton Coastguard in trying to turn the 36ft whale, before its lungs and other internal organs collapsed under its own weight.

The aim of the rescue team was to stabilise the creature, using heavy lifting equipment, and then hope that it could be persuaded to swim back out to sea.


British Divers Marine Life Rescue
 

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bren just heard on the lunchtime news that the whale didn't make it despite everybodys efforts
 
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