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Last Updated: Monday January 23 2006 18:02 GMT

Whale death 'could help others'

Whale with rescuers
Animal welfare groups say the huge amount of interest shown in a whale which died after swimming up the River Thames could help the species.

The attempted rescue of the northern bottle-nosed whale made news around the world, but the animal died on Saturday night as it was being moved down river.

Experts hope the story will get people to take an interest in whale species.

It's been announced that the Natural History Museum is taking the body, but it's not known what it'll do with it.

Northern bottle-nosed whales
Scientific name: Hyperoodon ampullatus
Length: 7.3 - 10m
Lives in Arctic and northern Atlantic oceans
Eats squid and fish

Thousands of people crowded the riverbank on Friday and Saturday, after the young whale appeared to be lost and confused in shallow waters near Battersea Bridge.

The group cheered when the mammal was gently hoisted onto a barge so it could be moved into deeper water.

But the whale, part of an endangered species, died after suffering breathing problems. Scientists are now trying to figure out the exact cause of its death.

Threatened

A spokeswoman for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said: "Whales around the world face deadly threats - from whaling by Japan, Norway and Iceland, pollution and habitat destruction, and increased noise in the ocean.

"We hope the whale which visited the UK Houses of Parliament can act as ambassador for all whales, and that its death won't be in vain."




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