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Last Updated: Friday, 27 July 2007, 20:49 GMT 21:49 UK
Suffering whale is to be put down
Whale in Ipswich river
Experts monitoring a stranded whale in a river near Ipswich
A 15ft whale stranded in a river near a busy ferry port is to be killed to prevent it suffering.

The juvenile Northern Bottlenose whale, trapped in shallow water in the River Orwell near Ipswich would not survive, experts said.

British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) group officials said they intended to kill the whale on Saturday.

The whale was seen in the afternoon and had become beached under the Orwell Bridge a few hours later.

"We are worried about the condition of the animal. We believe the animal is in a compromised condition," said Trevor Weeks, the BDMLR's national coordinator.

"The breath rate is not great. Its movement and actions appear to be lethargic.

"We are looking at doing something as early as we can tomorrow. Our main concern is that we don't want the animal to suffer."

Starvation fear

Crowds gathered on the banks of the river as divers in boats tried to coax the whale back to the North Sea.

Mr Weeks said the whale was the latest in a series to arrive on the east coast over the past 18 months.

He said whales had appeared in the Thames, at Skegness, Lincolnshire, in The Wash off north Norfolk and the river Humber near Hull, East Yorkshire. None had survived.

Mr Weeks suspected that the whale began its journey off the Norwegian coast and found itself in the North Sea by mistake.

The whale would almost certainly die of starvation or dehydration if not put down, he said.

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