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Last Updated: Saturday August 02 2008 14:57 GMT

Beached whale is put to sleep

Rescuers with the stranded whale

Rescue teams have had to put to sleep a sick whale stranded on a sand bank.

The six-tonne, 8m-long whale first got into trouble in shallow waters off the Hampshire and Sussex coast on Thursday.

Rescuers worked to try to free the creature using a special lifting machine, but it remained stuck.

Vets decided the kindest thing to do was to put the whale to sleep because even if it made it back out to sea it would not survive because it had severe kidney problems.

When the water level went down, vets gave the whale an injection to put it to sleep.

Rescuers with the stranded whale
The North Sea Bottlenose whale is thought to be a young adult and about 3,000 miles (4,828 km) away from where it normally lives.

Mystery still surrounds why the whale ended up so far from its normal home, but experts think it could have been because of its illness.