Still-Blinking Beached Humpback Whale Euthanized After Failed Rescue

A beached juvenile humpback whale has been euthanized in Australia despite a heroic effort by scores of volunteers to save it.

Even as experts were deciding whether to euthanize the animal, the whale was blinking, watching the humans around it and feebly moving its flippers.

Officials told The Guardian they have no idea why the whale beached at Sawtell Beach on Australias northeast coast but said inexperience could have been a factor. This may have been the yearlings first migration on its own.

Due to rough waters, rescuers determined that it was too dangerous for the boat to try to tow the whale back out to seaand that it was time to end the whales suffering, according to Australias ABC News.

Its been a very, very difficult afternoon for everybody involved, Shona Lorigan, vice president of the marine rescue organization ORRCA, told the Sydney Morning Herald.Mother natures not helped us today;the waves are getting bigger as I watch,Lorigan said

As the weather grew worse, the animals health continued to deteriorate.

We really had to think of the welfare of the whale, and we didnt want it to suffer any longer, Lorigan said.

The young whale was first spotted close to shore early Friday morning. After it beached, volunteers poured buckets of water on it and covered it with wet material to keep its skin moist. Rescuers stayed overnight with the humpback and had hoped to attempt to float it back into the sea Saturday at high tide, but were stymied by bad weather.

The whale will be removed from the beach and buried.

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Stranded humpback whale unable to be rescued tonight at Satwell on NSW mid-north coast

Rescuers helping a juvenile humpback stranded on Sawtell Beach south of Coffs Harbour say they will not be able to float it on the high tide.

The animal is currently stabilised in the shallows and is being monitored by vets who said it does not appear to be injured, but could have become disoriented during migration.

Conditions will be too dark to work around the animal at the 8:00pm tide so rescuers will instead try to release it on the morning tide at around 9:00am.

But Lawrence Orel from National Parks and Wildlife Service said there is an outside chance the whale may be able to re-float itself tonight.

"That's always a possibility and if that's the case that is obviously the best outcome if the animal self-frees itself," Mr Orel said.

"However at this stage we expect we may be providing it assistance tomorrow morning.

"We will look to see what will be the best option to try and re-float this animal.. when conditions are safe enough for everyone involved."

Beachgoers spotted the animal in the surf early this morning, and it washed onto the sand about 7:00am.

Rescuers have since been attempting to keep the whale upright so it can breathe.

Frank Watkins, who was on the beach, said it was agonising to watch.

"It's still gasping for breath you can see the air coming out of every now and then but there's nothing I'd say you can do for it. It's very sad.

"It's just floating around you can see its white belly, you can see its fins on the both sides, and you can see it trying to blow air. It blows air every now and then."

The whale is about 12 metres long, possibly 10 tonnes and approximately two years old, Mr Orel said.

"It's quite possibly its first solo migration," he said.

"Maybe it's misadventure that's brought it ashore but it may also have some underlying condition that is more serious."

ORRCA vice president Shona Lorigan said her aim was to stabilise the animal and then try and remove it from the beach.

"The animal does seem to be in an adequate condition and for the moment is showing strong vital signs."

Susan Crocetti from the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service said the mammal appeared to be "incredibly healthy on external appearances".

"We haven't got heat working against us, so we'll be able to look after that whale, even for a couple of days."

There are currently up to 30,000 humpback whales migrating up the NSW coast.

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