09 May ‘It’s a race against time’: Rescuers attempt to save stranded whale in Thames | UK News
Rescuers have launched an attempt to save a beached whale stuck on the River Thames in west London.
A Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) crew has been joined by two fire crews and the British Divers Marine Life Rescue in an effort to save the whale at Richmond Lock and Weir.
The whale, thought to be a minke whale, was first spotted at around 7pm.
Videos showed it being hosed down by a man, while a vet performed a check-up at the river’s edge, before the RNLI arrived at the scene to cheers at around 9pm.
Sky News reporter Lucia Binding, who is at the scene, said: “It looks lifeless at the moment. Half an hour ago it was thrashing around.”
She said the whale had been thrashing around six minutes into the first attempt by rescuers to re-float it.
“It has now been over three hours since it has been jammed in Richmond Lock, underneath the footbridge.
“Rescue workers are taking it really steady and cautiously, aware of how distressed the baby whale is.”
She said a crowd of about 100 people had gathered to watch, and there are efforts to keep water flowing onto the whale’s blowhole, to keep it alive until it can be re-floated.
Just after 10pm, she said about 10 rescue workers were “tightly surrounding” the whale, waiting for an inflatable.
“The whale’s tail has been thrashing a little.
“They’re about to place it on a dinghy. It’s a race against time to get it on the dinghy as soon as possible.
“Its fin and tail are moving.”
Jake Manketo, 20, from Richmond, said: “Everyone here is just hoping they get it out.
“We couldn’t believe our eyes when we first saw the poor fella, not every day something like this happens in Richmond.”
A spokesman for the Port of London Authority, which owns and operates the lock, said: “At around 7pm on Sunday, a small whale, approximately 3-4m long, believed to be a minke whale, became stranded at Richmond Lock and Weir.
“PLA staff have attempted to assist the whale with water along with British Divers Marine Life Rescue.
“The whale is still alive and the Metropolitan Police are working to keep the public away from the water’s edge.”
Minke whales are the smallest of the great whales, growing to about 10 metres.
They can usually be found throughout the northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.