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Dublin: 5 °C Thursday 9 April, 2020

Washed-up 35-foot sperm whale dies in Waterford

A sperm whale which washed up on a beach near Dungarvan had no hope of survival, and died earlier this morning.

File photo
File photo
Image: via Flickr

A 35-FOOT SPERM WHALE which washed up on a beach near Dungarvan in Co Waterford yesterday, with little hope of survival, has died there this morning.

The whale, which was stranded on the beach at Cunniger spit yesterday, died this morning around 24 hours after it washed up.

The animal was clearly in some distress and appeared to have been unwell. It had been spotted in difficulty off the Hook peninsula on Thursday evening.

Simon Berrow of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group explained that it is unusual for a sperm whale to be found swimming so close to land, and that once the creature had washed up there was little that could be done to help it.

“Once they’re on the continental shelf they’re way off where they’d normally live and feed. If they’ve been away from there and they haven’t fed, they get dehydrated quite quickly because they take their water out of their food.

“It was inevitable, really – there’s not a lot we can do with a stranded whale that size. We can’t float it, and we can’t euthanise it, because we don’t have enough drugs for a creature of its size.

“The best we could do was to let it die peacefully without being stressed and harassed. In many ways it’s blessed that it died fairly quickly.”

In other circumstances, he added, sperm whales could remain alive for several days.

Berrow expressed some surprise that the whale – which appeared to not yet have reached full adult maturity – seemed ‘quite clean’ and did not show any signs of contact with squid, from which sperm whales would usually feed.

The mammal’s cause of death will likely never be known.

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Gavan Reilly

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