Saturday, January 21, 2006

Whale Rescue Operation - 14:34, Saturday January 21, 2006,,30000-13496367,00.html

Rescuers with the whale

Whale Rescue Operation
Updated: 14:34, Saturday January 21, 2006

Marine experts are planning to transport the stranded Thames whale on a barge to the river estuary.

See Sky News for the latest live footage.

However, they are still awaiting veterinary results to determine the animal's condition.

There is a chance the whale will not be well enough to be transported back out to sea.

The 15ft-long northern bottle-nosed whale became stranded in shallow water near Chelsea shortly before midday.

A team of rescuers then surrounded it near the river's south bank near Battersea Bridge.

They put inflatable pontoons in place to support it and are now lifting it on to a barge.

Many people are involved

Tony Woodley, from British Divers Marine Life Rescue, told Sky News the whale was thought to be in a "moderate" condition.

"So far so good. The animal seems to be reasonably calm," he said.

Laila Sadler, from the RSPCA, told Sky News: "I think the whale is in the safest possible hands."

It was first seen in central London on Friday making its way up river as far as Chelsea, before disappearing around 9pm.

Hundreds of people have gathered today on both banks of the Thames to see the mammal.

Battersea Bridge has been closed due to the size of the crowd and warnings had been issued to spectators about the rising tide.

Northern bottle-nosed whales normally live in the north Atlantic and can be seen off northern Britain and Ireland in the summer.

It is believed to be the first sighting of the species on the Thames since records began in 1913.

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