Whale stranded in Thames dies during rescue attempt

Sunday, January 22, 2006

LONDON-- The lost and distressed whale stranded in the River Thames died Saturday as rescue workers ferried it on a rusting salvage barge in an effort to release it in the open sea, an animal rights group said.

The 20-foot-long Northern bottlenose whale had been lifted onto a barge by rescuers and was being taken to the North Sea when it suffered convulsions and died, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said.

The whale struggled with the effects of being out of the water, officials said.

"It was a brave, valiant, but ultimately tragic effort to get the whale to safety," RSPCA scientific officer Leila Sadler said.

"It was always going to be a race against time to get it to the ocean, especially with the effect being out of the water has on a whale's body," said Tony Woodley, spokesman for the British Divers Marine Life Rescue group.

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