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Newborn whale euthanised after volunteers battle to save it

A humpback whale calf has been euthanised, after attempts to rescue the animal, from Dundowran beach, was proved to be futile.
A humpback whale calf has been euthanised, after attempts to rescue the animal, from Dundowran beach, was proved to be futile. Valerie Horton

A NEWBORN humpback whale had to be euthanised after it had washed up on Dundowran Beach on Sunday.

Despite the best efforts of volunteers, who had kept the whale hydrated and under shade for several hours, it was then determined that the mammal would not be able to survive without its mother.

Crews from Queensland Parks and Wildlife, ORCA Whale and Seal Rescue, Blue Dolphin Whale Watching and the Pacific Whale Foundation were all at the scene and had kept the calf comfortable until it was euthanised.

The humpback, believed to be about six weeks old, had also been needed to be helped back out to sea on Saturday after coming close to shore.

Tasman Venture's Vicki Neville said it  had been seen in the shallows and locals had looked after it and had hoped it would reunite with its mum, but sadly it  had been found stranded on the beach yesterday.

She said there were signs the whale had been unwell and that they had kept it comfortable and had done the best they could in the situation.

Natalie Richadson from Wildlife Rescue Fraser Coast said it was the kindest outcome for the calf.

"It is a extremely sad situation, but people need to take into account that there's many reasons as to why the calf has become stranded and unless it can be successfully and quickly reunited with its mother, the only humane option is euthanasia," she said.

A humpback whale calf has been euthanised, after attempts to rescue the animal, from Dundowran beach, was proved to be futile. ORCA Whale and Seal Rescue volunteers worked with Marine Park Rangers to keep the calf comfortable.
A humpback whale calf has been euthanised, after attempts to rescue the animal, from Dundowran beach, was proved to be futile. ORCA Whale and Seal Rescue volunteers worked with Marine Park Rangers to keep the calf comfortable. Valerie Horton

"Humpback whales are not a species that can be taken into care for raising or rehabilitation and supposing by some miracle it was able to be kept alive temporarily in captivity, then what?

"Their diet is complex, as are all facets of their behaviour and lifestyle.

"They need to learn migration routes, songs, communications, pod interaction and so forth from their mother and family group.

"Humans can provide none of these things.

  "Humpbacks are also an incredibly social species, and grow to a huge size, again humans can accommodate for none of these factors in captivity.

"Trying to keep it alive in a facility somewhere would be unkind and impractical and would simply cause more distress to the animal and additional suffering to it.

No one would enjoy having to make the decision to euthanase or having to do the deed, but the priority is to the animal's welfare, both immediately and longer term. 

"It is truly sad that this happens, but this baby is fortunate to have washed up in a location it was seen and could be made as comfortable as possible until its end, rather than lying alone somewhere gradually cooking in the sun and heat, and slowly starving to death."

Topics:  dundowran beach fraser coast hervey bay whale


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