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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 March 2007, 11:49 GMT
Rescuers put down beached whale
Beached whale
Several attempts were made to rescue the beached whale
A young whale which had become stranded on a north Wales beach has been put down by a rescue team.

Rescuers were hopeful that the mammal, thought to be a minke whale, would survive when it swam back to sea after being stranded for several hours.

But it became beached again between Criccieth and Pwllheli.

Tony Woodley from the charity British Divers Marine Life Rescue said it was a sad ending but necessary to prevent the orphaned calf from any more suffering.

Shoving it back into the sea without its mother would have been a death sentence
Tony Woodley, British Divers Marine Life Rescue

The whale's body was being moved on Wednesday morning ahead of a post mortem examination, which is due to take place during the afternoon.

Mr Woodley, the rescue group's director, said the decision to give the whale a lethal injection was only made after a lengthy assessment and there was no other option.

"Shoving it back into the sea without its mother would have been a death sentence," he told BBC News.

"It's dependent on its mother's milk and there was no evidence that there was an adult around.

"It was dark, choppy and windy and trying to reunite the animal would have been impossible.

"It's always a tough call, but the most important thing is that the animal didn't suffer."

The mammal, thought to be less than a year old, was first spotted at about 1500 GMT on Tuesday high up on the beach.

'Myfanwy'

After more than two hours and a major rescue effort, the three-metre long animal swam out on the high tide.

But later reports revealed it had become washed up on the same stretch of beach for a second time.

Dark and windy conditions made the rescue operation particularly tough for the team of volunteers but they did a "tremendous job", Mr Woodley said.

He said had the team known about its plight earlier, more could have been done.

Holyhead coastguard, part of the rescue operation, said the whale had been nicknamed Myfanwy.

The post-mortem examination is expected to look at the condition of the whale's body and carry out tests on its blubber.

Mr Woodley said large species without support from water can suffer renal failure as muscle cells break down and cause toxins to be released.




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Rescuers with the beached whale



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