Friday, August 22, 2008

Nature Can Be Harsh - Rest In Peace

Lost baby whale euthanised in Australia

A lost baby whale which captured hearts around the world as it tried to suckle from an Australian yacht it thought was its mother was killed Friday to end its suffering, wildlife rangers said.

"The calf has been quietly and humanely euthanised," National Parks and Wildlife Service spokesman Chris McIntosh told AFP. "It was a sad moment, but it went quietly to sleep."

A vet on board a small boat in Pittwater bay near Sydney's Palm Beach first administered an anaesthetic through a large needle, by simply leaning overboard and injecting the weakened humpback calf, he said.

The animal, nicknamed Colin, was then moved into shallow water and given the euthanasia drug.

The calf's fate had been the focus of desperate concern in Australia as efforts to reunite it with passing pods of humpback whales failed.

The army was asked whether it could help float Colin back out to sea while a scientist suggested it could be fed formula milk through an artificial teat.

And an Aboriginal 'whale whisperer' was brought in to comfort him, singing ancient songs which brought Colin to the side of the national parks' boat, where it lifted its head and allowed itself to be patted.

"He felt really lonely and he wanted to be with his mother and family," said Bunna Lawrie of the Mirning tribe from the Great Australian Bight.

But the head of the national parks service, Sally Barnes, said that while the decision to euthanise the whale was difficult there was no other option.

"It was suffering extremely so we've had to make the very difficult decision," she said.

The calf was first spotted on Sunday and had weakened rapidly over the past couple of days without the daily 230 litres of mothers' milk which it would normally consume.

In a remarkable effort to return it to the ocean, the calf was lured out to sea on Monday by a 'mother ship', a whale-sized yacht from which it had been trying to suckle after apparently being abandoned by its mother.

But after failing to find its own mother or an adoptive parent among the pods of whales passing Pittwater, Colin returned to the bay and again began trying to suckle yachts.

The humpbacks are on the return leg of an epic annual round trip from the Antarctic to tropical waters to breed, and they can be seen ploughing homewards not far off Sydney's beaches on most days.

Experts say that the passing whales and Colin would have been able to communicate as they passed by, but that the chance of him being adopted was always extremely slim.

© 2 AFP


puerileuwaite said...

How terrible. Sometimes life really bites.

dianne said...

Yes Puggles my dear it is so sad and such a waste of such a beautiful creature. xoxox

boneman said...

I know the size difference is great, and I get guffaw from hunters all the time, but, every time I drive to town I see dead deers along the highway.
Once I saw a little fawn.
Thought it was a dog from a distance, crossing the road a half mile ahead. And when I got to the spot, it was so young, it didn't even know to run from me.
It walked into the cornfields then....
Dang it.
They ARE smarter than us.