A Minke whale that became stranded in the river Thames has had to be put down.
“Once the whale is beached a veterinary team will be on stand by to euthanize the animal to end its suffering,” the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) said earlier in a statement.
Vets euthanised the animal. Rescuers had previously said it would struggle to survive. The RNLI later confirmed the whale had been put down.
The BDMLR had said earlier the injured and drained calf would struggle to swim even if it managed to get back into deeper water.
Crews had already worked for hours before being able to free the whale early Monday from a perilous stranding on a lock near Richmond, a few miles downstream of Teddington.
But as the mammal was being taken for further health checks on an inflatable pontoon, it slipped back into the water.
The whale, which measured about four meters (13 feet) long, was first seen lying on the lock’s boat rollers Sunday night. Hundreds of people gathered along the banks of the Thames to watch the rescue operation as night fell. The area is known for wide tidal swings that easily reach over 5.5 meters (18 feet) high.
Port staff were joined by firefighters, coast guard members and marine animal rescue divers.
Minke whales, which are more typically found in the northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, can grow to a size of nine meters (30 feet).
Julia Cable, National Co-ordinator at BDMLRC earlier said the size of the whale, estimated at around 4.5 metres, suggested that it was still maternally dependent, or at least socially dependent, so "we cannot put it back out."
"It's nutritionally in a poor state. Either it's been separated from its mum too early, or something's happened ... it's run out of energy," she said.
"It won't have been feeding well in the Thames ... It will be dehydrated, it's starved."
"This animal comes from the northern North Sea - so it is hundreds of miles from where it should be. The whale is a hundred miles from the opening to the North Sea in the Thames Estuary," said Martin Garside, a spokesman from the Port of London Authority. "There is no obvious sign of his mother."