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Last Updated: Monday, 23 January 2006, 13:10 GMT
MoD site 'may have fazed whale'
The whale in London
The whale passing the Houses of Parliament
A Ministry of Defence (MoD) testing site may have contributed to the death of a whale which found its way into the River Thames, an MP has suggested.

Roger Gale, Tory MP for North Thanet in Kent, said shockwaves from the site in Essex could have confused it.

He said at least one whale was seen off the coast of Southend last week.

The MoD said independent specialists had concluded it was "inconceivable" that the effects of the range could have contributed to the incident.

It said it had consulted with Vibrock, a company specialising in vibration monitoring and control, who had studied the effects of the site in Shoeburyness for over a year.

The animal was apparently sighted off the Essex coast in the early part of last week at a time when the explosions were at their absolute worst
Roger Gale
Tim Wilton, director of Vibrock, said: "The impact of the MoD's work on the marine environment is miniscule compared to everyday shipping activity in the area."

The northern bottle-nosed whale was trapped in the River Thames, in the centre of London, for two days.

A rescue mission on Saturday ended in its death on the barge which was carrying it back out to sea.

Mr Gale is calling on officials investigating the death of the whale to consider whether the shockwaves from tests conducted last week could have caused it to swim off course.

Mr Gale said: "The animal was apparently sighted off the Essex coast in the early part of last week at a time when the explosions were at their absolute worst.

"I'm not saying this is cause and effect, I am simply saying that those who are responsible for the post-mortem and the investigation should look at this as one of a series of possible factors."

Findings from the post-mortem examination are expected to be released on Wednesday.




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