A local authority is facing “a logistical nightmare” in removing a dying whale which stranded itself at a harbour in West Cork.
The 12-metre fin whale beached at low tide on the slipway at Baltimore Harbour at around 7am yesterday.
The Irish Whale and & Dolphin Group co-ordinator Padraig Whooley, who attended the scene, said the whale could weigh up to 30 tonnes. He said the creature was in very poor condition and he expected it to die.
He said the group had consulted with veterinary experts, who advised it was impossible to euthanise the whale due to its size, and the fact a lethal injection would need to be administered underneath it, where access was impossible.
“The fin whale is the second largest whale on the planet” Mr Whooley said. “We don’t yet know what sex it is but we know it’s an adult and could be anything from 20 to 100 years old.”
The whale was initially stuck against a pier wall in the inner harbour. It came in from Sherkin Island on a low tide. It initially moved 300m-400m offshore before coming back into the inner port.
Brendan Cottrell, assistant coxswain on the Baltimore lifeboat and ferry service owner, said locals did their best not to panic the creature further.
Meanwhile, Mr Whooley said if the whale died it would take at least a week to remove the carcass. “It will present a logistical nightmare for Cork County Council which will have to remove it,” he said.
Dr Simon Berrow, founder of the Irish Whale and & Dolphin Group, said he was not confident the whale could be saved.
At times yesterday, there were crowds of more than 500 sightseers in the fishing and tourist village.
Gardaí along with county council outdoor staff and officers from the National Parks and Wildlife Service were also in attendance.
Mr Whooley said it was very likely such strandings would increase on the Irish coast.
Ironically, next Sunday is National Whale Watch Day and the group is organising events around the coast.
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