A minke whale live stranded on the high tide at midday near Cuan in Ventry bay, County Kerry. Local IWDG members were quickly on scene to assess the health of the animal. It was a 5.6m animal that was showing signs of malnutrition and that also had some skin lesions, though neither were acute conditions. Basically it wasn’t in good shape but that difficult question in any stranding situation had to be addressed; could we justify leaving or conversely give it a chance and attempt to re-float it. Any re-floating puts extra stress on the animal and if that operation is ultimately going to be futile then is it justifiable.
Live strandings are difficult and distressing situations that are fraught with issues for all concerned. It was decided to give this whale a second chance though and a re-float planned for the evening high tide. That was ten hours away and it was one of the hottest days of the year, so with the assistance of concerned locals wet blankets were applied.
A constant dousing of the minke was then carried out all afternoon to keep its body temperature down and stop its skin blistering in the sun. At 22:00 with the sun setting the tide was up to the base of the dorsal fin and a whale stretcher manoeuvred into place under the whale. It was then brought out into deeper water to re-acclimatise and get its bearings before being released. But shortly afterwards it restranded and with the light fading a line was drawn under the proceedings.
The next morning the minke was high and dry again and in worse condition. This time we didn’t intervene and left the animal for nature to take its course.
Nick Massett IWDG
A huge thanks to all the locals who willingly helped out hauling buckets of sea water. And a particular thanks to Louise Overy (IWDG North Kerry, Dingle Aquarium) and family for bringing the stretcher, funded by FLAG Southwest for the IWDG, which was invaluable.