A 12-metre humpbacked whale stranded on a sandbank in the Wadden Sea has survived a euthanasia attempt and animal rights activists are calling for another rescue effort at high tide.
At the same time, a dead young male sperm whale has washed up nearby on the shore of the island of Texel, raising suggestions there may be a link between the two cases.
The presence of the second whale was confirmed by Texel mayor Francine Giskes at a news conference on Saturday afternoon.
She told reporters vets will make a second attempt to kill the humpback whale, now nicknamed Johannes, no earlier than Sunday.
The 20 tonne whale was given what vets hoped would be a fatal injection on Friday after two efforts to move the mammal to deeper waters failed.
Giskes told reporters marine biologists had concluded the whale has only a minimal chance of survival, if any. ‘Even if the animal could be saved, it will not have a happy ending,’ Giskes said. ‘It is not in the interest of the animal to release it. Its muscles have weakened and you would not be helping it.’
Experts are also looking into the death of a sperm whale which washed up on the Texel shore on Saturday, around one kilometre from the location of the humpback. It is a young male and some 12 metres long.
The mayor said the arrival of two large marine mammals is an extremely rare occurrence. The entire area has been sealed off to the public and is being patrolled by the police.
Meanwhile, animal rights activities are calling for a third rescue attempt. ‘Animal protectors want another rescue attempt, the authorities a new lethal injection,’ said Marianne Thieme, leader of the pro-animal party PvdD.
Lenie ‘t Hart from the seal sanctuary in Groningen has also called for another effort to free the whale. She said the animal was still active when given what should have been a lethal injection on Friday.
Volunteers at the sanctuary have considerable experience in releasing stranded sea mammals, ‘t Hart said. Her plan involved blasting away the sand under the whale’s body to help it reach deeper waters.
‘I do not understand why the vet would not give the animal a last chance,’ she said. ‘This is not taking proper care of a protected species.’
Activists from the Sea Shepherd organisation are also on their way to the Wadden Sea.
‘It is clear that things don’t add up,’ Geert Vons, director of the Dutch arm of the environmental group, told news agency ANP.
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