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Last Updated: Monday, 23 January 2006, 15:50 GMT
What will happen to the whale now?
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The bottle-nosed whale
Such whales are usually found in the North Atlantic
An attempt to save a whale stranded in the River Thames failed on Saturday. So what will happen to its carcass now?

Usually found in the North Atlantic one bottle-nosed whale ended up in the Thames this weekend and became worldwide news, with thousands of people flocking to the river to see it.

Whales have been spotted in the estuary but never as far upstream as central London. It is the first time this type of whale has been seen in the Thames since records began in 1913.

A rescue operation was launched to try to save it but ended in tragedy on Saturday night when the whale died after being lifted onto a barge trying to take it back out to sea. So what happens now?

Marine biologists from the Zoological Society of London carried out a post-mortem on the seven-ton female whale in a secluded riverfront yard in Gravesend, Kent, on Sunday.

Toxic

They took blubber samples and examined damage to the 15ft northern whale's skin. They also studied the echo response areas of the brain which could reveal if they were damaged, causing the animal to become distracted.

The samples are currently being examined in the laboratories of ZSL at Regent's Park. Preliminary result are due on Wednesday. When the tests are complete the whale's body will be released for disposal.

By a statute of 1324, whales - though mammals - are classed as "fishes royal" - belonging to the Queen. When one dies stranded on crown or public land an official called the Receiver of Wreck - employed by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency - usually decides what to do with it.

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But as this whale died in the middle of the Thames on a barge belonging to the Port of London Authority (PLA), what to do with it is the responsibility of the authority.

A decision has been made to give the body to the Natural History Museum after all the tests are complete and it will clean the bones and preserve them for scientific research.

The museum has had the right to examine all whale carcasses that wash ashore in Britain since 1913.

In most cases when it comes to disposing of the flesh, if a carcass contains poisonous substances - from chemicals dumped in the sea - it will be classed as toxic waste and have to be incinerated. If untoxic, it will probably be disposed of in a landfill site.

As for the voluntary organisation that tried to rescue the whale, British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), there is no onus on the government, the city, the Queen or anyone else to cover the cost of the rescue attempt, which reportedly includes more than 300 worth of parking fines.


With regards to the parking fines... Yet another example of the un-greatness of Great Britain where anyone trying to do a good turn ends up being worse off. Talk about being proud to be British - I wish! The fines should be waived and the jobs-worth traffic wardens reprimanded for issuing them in the first place as the vehicles were clearly marked. Well done numpties!
Steve M, Reading

I wish the people who thought they were helping, with their tests and examinations, had not treated the whale as a much welcomed experiment. Why did they not make their only priority to be to get this poor creature back into the sea, where she belonged. 48 hours could have made a huge difference.
moira.petrons, Swansea, South Wales

I think that the parking fines are dispicable, especially as all vehicles belonging to the rescuers were well marked as rescue vehicles. I'll bet the traffic warden who attached the tickets to the vehicles had a good look at the rescue attempt. All parking fines should be scrapped or waived.
justine greatbanks, crewe cheshire uk

Its a shame that the poor creature passed away, however if the carcass is found to be non toxic, why not sell it to one of the numerous sushi returants and give the proceeds to the rescuers to pay off their parking fines
Ade , cardiff

surely someone can arrange for these costs to be covered. It would be good PR for the Queen to fund it and it's not like she is short of cash!
susan Hartland, Pudsey

surely the public who enjoyed the spectacle of the rescue could donate some money to the charity who did all the hard work - I have done so already and suggest that the news channels should as well as they got many hours of coverage from this story
Jane, HH

Government agencies did nothing to help to whale and left it to a volunteer organisation. In death they have decided to do nothing again. Fortunately there are compassionate people in this land of so called animal lovers that think with their hearts and not their wallets.
Tim , London

I believe that the whale carcuss should be launched back into the sea, as that is her home. A musieum is no place for a water animal, and i think many people will be distressed at the fact it is being preserved for the publics intrestes. It is not fair that this is happening to a whale who accidntly ended up in the river thames.
Carlie Borthwick, Inverness, SCOTLAND

Its a shame, the whale caused such excitement and interest in every cirle, now its dead everyone is washing their hands of it saying they have no responsibility to the costs involved. Had it survived I am sure they would have been the first to mention how they got involved. As for the parking tickets, they should be torn up. Disgraceful end to a story which grabbed EVERYONES interest.
Jonathan, London

I think they should keep the carcase and make the most of this creature that died in vein. The marine community can research the Biological factors and I feel that the bones should be exhibited for future generations to learn and respect these animals. This could be done by means of exhibiting the skeleton at the Natural History Museum in London. This surely is a more fitting use than just disposing in a landfill site. Of course this would be subject to the Toxicity of the Whale. Please also bear in mind that this 1 whale may have had a nation of people entranced by it and concerned for its well being, we also need to remember the whales that go unreported and slaughtered by the Norwegian Ships.
Chris, Jersey C.I




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