RESCUE ATTEMPT: New Brighton man Barry Ricketts, second from left, who discovered the beached whale.
RESCUE ATTEMPT: New Brighton man Barry Ricketts, second from left, who discovered the beached whale.

Whale too sick to live

By MEGAN KINNINMENT

THEY cradled her, poured cool water on her over-heating body and spoke soothing words ? one couple even used a towel as a stretcher to carry the 160kg creature back out to sea.

But there was nothing rescuers could do to save the 2.6-metre whale found beached at New Brighton yesterday.

The elderly female melon-headed whale was discovered on the beach about 5.30am by a local couple out jogging, and was kept alive for the next six hours by a team of volunteers taking turns pouring water over her.

A rescue team was assembled, with experts from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), Byron Marine Park and Sea World Whale Rescue Squad, who decided to relocate the whale to the nearby Brunswick River.

But the whale died en route.

New Brighton man Barry Ricketts discovered the stranded whale as he and his wife took an earlymorning run on the beach.

He said his first instinct was to get her back into the water.

While his wife left to ring wildlife carers, another local man, Scott Mayne, helped drag the whale back out to sea using a towel as a stretcher, but within 15 minutes she had beached herself again.

"She swam around in circles, and rolled on her back...she looked really sick," Mr Ricketts said.

NPWS officer Scott Robinson said while the mens' efforts were commendable, he did not encourage taking a beached whale back out to sea, saying it could even trigger mass strandings if the sick whale let out distress calls to its waiting pod.

"What we suggest to people if they find a beached whale is to leave the whale where they are, try to keep them wet and contact the experts," Mr Robinson said.

An autopsy will be car- ried out.



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