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Sunday, August 9, 1998 Published at 07:22 GMT 08:22 UK


Widnes Willy towed to safety

The whaele is off the shore and back in the Irish Sea

A confused whale which thwarted an attempt to rescue it by returning to the banks of the River Mersey has now been towed out to sea.

Ged Lynch, watch manager, Liverpool Coastguard saw Willy go free
Harnesses were attached to the 20ft long minke whale, christened Widnes Willy.

Divers used a boat to tow the giant eight miles up the river into the Irish Sea.

The operation got under way just after midnight at high tide.

Police, RSPCA officers and firefighters had already spent 12 hours at the previous high tide trying to free Widnes Willy from Hale Bank in Widnes, Cheshire.

[ image: Whales often beach themselves but the reasons are not fully understood]
Whales often beach themselves but the reasons are not fully understood
He floated out as planned, but after circling twice became disoriented and headed back to the riverbank.

The six-tonne mammal was given antibiotics, kept cold and wet, and was said to be quite calm under the circumstances.

He then beached himself for a second time at Saturday's low tide on Oglet Beach, Speke.

An RSPCA spokeswoman said: "Once he is in open water we hope he will just swim off and not turn around again."

Rescuers are now keeping their fingers crossed that their latest efforts have been a success.

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08 Aug 98 | UK
Widnes Willy beached again

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Discovering the minke whale

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