A 40-foot fin whale has become trapped in Baltimore harbor, County Cork. Experts who are trying to keep the animal calm believe it is very sick or starving.
The mammal reportedly moved 300 or 400 meters offshore before coming back into the small port and being trapped at low tide. The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) believe that the whale came to shore because it was in distress.
According to the Cork Independent a vet who examined the mammal believes it is seriously ill.
This particular breed of whale can grow up to 25 meters in length.
An onlooker at Baltimore harbor, Kay Quinn from Skibbereen brought her children to see the whale.
She said “It was an amazing sight to see the whale there. Yyou could see the top part of his body and the blowhole. Some local fishermen were trying to bring it out of the harbor early this morning but there has been no success yet.
"There were helicopters overhead and the huge crowds were looking down over the wall to get a glimpse of the whale.”
Speaking to the Press Association Brendan Cottrell, the assistant coxswain on the Baltimore lifeboat and owner of the Cape Clear ferry, said “We’ve been told to keep all the boats back and try not to stress the animal.”
“It looks as though he’s stuck by the pier wall and there’s a crowd of about 200 or 300 looking on. We’ve had dead whales on the beaches before but never a live one in this spot.”
Dr Simon Berrow, founder of the IWDG, says he is not confident that they can save the mammal.
He said “We’ve had this before on the south-west coast where whales have been emaciated and died.”
“It’s hard to know. It’s a young fin whale, it may be starving to death. If there is any chance of herding the whale out that is an option but it would need to be kept away from boat mooring lines in the harbor.
“But you want to keep back boats and people and jet skies, anything like that could stress the whale further.”
Local boats had attempted to herd the whale back to sea when it turned towards the harbor. However Berrow said considering the route the whale took, along Sherkin Island, it would difficult to direct the whale back to safety.
The gardaí (Irish police) are asking the public to stay away from the area.
The whale will be left to die in the harbor before the County Council will organize to have the body dragged to a local beach and the body will be disposed of.
Here’s some raw footage of the whale stranded in Baltimore harbor: