Page last updated at 01:09 GMT, Tuesday, 29 July 2008 02:09 UK

Stranded whale freed from river

Minke whale (Picture by Sea Watch)
The whale was about two miles up the River Forth

A stranded whale was rescued when about 20 people launched an operation to coax it back out to sea.

The 15ft mammal, believed to be a minke whale, was trapped on mudflats on the Forth Estuary near Limekilns, Fife.

A member of the public spotted the stricken mammal and alerted the coastguard - who used lights to help with the rescue effort.

When the lamps were shone on the creature, he appeared to roll off the mud banks and swam out to sea.

His release came at about midnight on Monday - after more than two hours of frantic work by volunteers to save the whale.

Marine rescuers, vets, divers and the Queensferry lifeboat were involved in the operation, which was watched by about 60 anxious residents and passers-by.

A coastguard spokesman said: "We had static lights and we were illuminating the area. It just turned round and swam away.

"I don't know if it got scared of the lights or if it just got its strength back."

Counting whales: A fluky business
26 Jun 08 |  Science/Nature
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