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Last Updated: Monday, 22 March, 2004, 08:39 GMT
Rescuers struggle to free whale
Sperm whale
Divers strive to rescue the sperm whale beached on a sand bank
Rescuers have failed in their latest attempt to rescue a 36-feet-long whale stranded off the Lincolnshire coast.

Mario Siano, a coastguard spokesman, said a new attempt will be started at the next high tide at 1916 GMT.

Peter Ripley, a local resident, said: "You can see the water coming from the spout of the whale and it is still thrashing about."

"The rescue attempt has been unsuccessful this morning but they will try again tonight," he said.

Last-ditch attempt

Inspector John Bow of the RSPCA said a veterinary surgeon will check the whale later on Monday to reassess its health.

He said: "It is a deepwater animal and shouldn't be there, it has obviously lost its way."

The team had resumed efforts to free the 15-ton animal from a sand bank at Sutton Bridge in The Wash shortly before the 0700 GMT high tide.

Rescuers at work
Its respiratory rate is currently around five breaths per minute
Tony Woodley
Rescue team spokesman

"We are not really equipped to lift an animal of this size so this is really a last-ditch attempt," said Alan Knight from the rescue team.

"It will probably die if we do not save it today," he said.

The whale was spotted by a member of the public at about 10am on Sunday.

It is not known how it came to be on the bank.

It might have become stranded due to ill health, or it could have been confused by the sand banks and shallow water of the The Wash.

Volunteers spent Sunday trying to keep the whale upright so its lungs did not collapse under its own weight.

They had to leave the animal overnight when the coastguard warned them that deteriorating weather would put them at risk.

"Its respiratory rate is currently around five breaths per minute," rescue spokesman Tony Woodley said.

"This means the animal is stressed, as these larger species normally breath only a maximum of once a minute.


SEE ALSO:
Dead whale washes up on coast
31 Jan 04  |  Norfolk
Sonar 'may cause whale deaths'
08 Oct 03  |  Science/Nature


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