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07 August 2001 Tuesday 16 Jamadi-ul-Awwal 1422

SA police blow up stranded whale

CAPE TOWN, Aug 6: South African police blew up a stranded whale on Monday. "It was not pleasant, it was horrible to see but it was the humane thing to do," said Wendy Kant, a research assistant at the Bayworld aquarium in the southeastern city of Port Elizabeth.

"The police carried out a demolition-controlled explosion on instructions from Marine and Coastal Management and death was instantaneous." The humpback whale beached itself at the mouth of Van Staden's River, 40 kilometres (24 miles) west of Port Elizabeth, on Sunday. Staff from the aquarium, the National Sea Rescue Institute, the ambulance service, surf lifesaving clubs and volunteers battled for more than nine hours to return the whale to the sea, but were unsuccessful.

"The whale was still alive on Monday morning but was weak and barely breathing," Kant said. It was lying on the sand, completely exposed and had overheated. Its internal organs had been severely damaged and the lungs had partially collapsed.

"The animal was clearly in great pain." Kant said whales were sometimes killed by injecting poison into the heart or veins, or slicing a main artery and letting them bleed to death, but that the size of this whale necessitated an explosion. The carcass was expected to remain on the beach until the high tide took it out to sea.-AFP

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