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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 July 2007, 06:10 GMT 07:10 UK
Whale trapped in river put down
Dead whale
The whale became beached in shallow water
A 15ft whale which was stranded in a river near a busy ferry port has been put down by marine experts.

They said they wanted to prevent the juvenile Northern Bottlenose, which has been trapped in the River Orwell near Ipswich since Friday, from suffering.

Experts said it would almost certainly have died of starvation or dehydration if it had not been put down.

The whale was seen on Friday afternoon and became beached in shallow water under the Orwell Bridge hours later.

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

Lying in mud

Trevor Weeks, from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue Group, said the whale was in a "compromised position" and once vets could safely get near it it was humanely put down.

"At first light this morning at about half four, five o'clock we were able to get a veterinary team out to the animal and we started the process of euthanasing the animal," he said.

He added that he received confirmation an hour and a half later that the whale "had finally passed away".

Zoologists plan to carry out tests on the animal if they can, although experts said there was a good chance the whale's body could be washed away.

Onlookers said the whale carcass was clearly visible lying in mud not far from the Orwell Bridge.

Norwegian coast

The whale is the latest in a series to arrive on the east coast over the past 18 months.

Whales have appeared in the Thames, at Skegness, Lincolnshire, in The Wash off north Norfolk and the river Humber near Hull, East Yorkshire. None have survived.

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

He said experts were not sure why whales got lost and arrived in the North Sea.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Footage of the Northern Bottlenose whale



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