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Last Updated: Wednesday September 16 2009 13:19 GMT

Whale warning for south coast

Gilbert the whale

People are being warned not approach a whale that's been spotted off the coast of Dorset as rescuers are worried the beast will get stressed out and sick.

The 2.74metre-long northern bottlenose whale has been named Gilbert after an RNLI lifeguard who spotted him swimming near Bournemouth Pier and in Poole Bay.

Rescuers fear that if Gilbert doesn't have his usual diet of squid, he'll get dehydrated, as he gets water from food.

They're trying to encourage him to swim back into the English Channel.

It's hoped he'll then swim down to the Atlantic to join the rest of his pod.

Jenny O'Connor, who's a rescuer for British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), said it's very unusual to see whales in the area.

"Gilbert should have actually have gone over Scotland and down the west coast," she said. "It is very strange to see him in Poole Bay.

Stressed

"We are concerned about his welfare and are monitoring to see if he is feeding as he gets his water from his food and we are worried he may get dehydrated.

"We do not want too many boats going near him because it will make him very nervous and stressed and this could cause him medical problems."