Beached whales will be killed
by Alan Harten
March 25, 2009
The RSPCA and other British animal welfare charities believe that beached whales should be humanely put down by lethal injection rather than be left to continue suffering appallingly.
The announcement was made after investigations proved that the mammals will probably not survive once they become stranded in shallow water or on a beach.
The whales are usually already ill, dehydrated, malnourished, or wounded when they are stranded, and many will have suffered for weeks.
Once beached, they undergo hours of kidney failure and agonizing muscle injuries.
Between 2002 and 2006, 54 whales became stranded in the UK and none survived.
Exceptionally, a rescue attempt will be made only if the whales can be refloated and led out to sea.
Rescuers will carry on assisting small cetaceans such as porpoises and dolphins that may be able to survive and give treatment until a vet arrives to give a lethal injection.
In Britain twelve or more whales, normally beaked or sperm, are beached every year.
The mammals are far from their feeding areas in the Atlantic, usually lost or confused and sick or hurt.
A senior research fellow at the Zoological Society, Dr Paul Jepson, said whales stranded in Britain are beyond help.
Blood samples from beached whales, including the Thames whale proved they were all in pain from kidney failure, dehydration, and other problems.
Everything turns bad extremely fast as soon as they become stranded he said.
They should be put out of their misery as soon as possible.
Whales may be helped back to sea if they are beached on the west coast since there it will be easier to find deep water.
However, the North Sea is too shallow for deep ocean mammals, and many cannot swim out of it.
The RSPCA accepted that the new policy was contentious but said the welfare of the whales is their first priority.
Adam Grogan, a science officer said the RSPCA will look at each stranding, but the supposition is likely to be that the animal is put down.
He added it is a very sensitive matter and it is not easy to decide on the spot, which is why they have studied a lot of information
The announcement was made while over 70 long-finned pilot whales died when they beached themselves in south-west Australia.
Ten others were carried by truck to an area with deeper waters and put back into the sea yesterday.
They seemed to swim out to sea.
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