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Rescue operation to help stranded young whale

Rescue operation to help stranded young whale

Divers, vets and the coast guard were mounting a rescue operation Friday to help a whale calf that had become trapped in shallow water in a seaside area of the Greek capital.

The animal was an injured young Cuvier’s beaked whale, or Ziphius cavirostris, according to Arion, a research organization that provides veterinary care for stranded cetaceans. The species usually inhabits deep waters, and it was unclear how it had been injured and why it became stranded in the Alimos area of southern Athens.

On Thursday, the whale had been sighted in shallow water in the nearby area of Vouliagmeni, and divers had been called in to lead it out to sea. The operation had initially appeared successful, but the animal returned to shallow waters Friday morning.

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A diver attempts to care for a whale calf that became stranded in shallow water in a southern Athens seaside area, on Friday. [AP]

“The fact that it has appeared in shallow waters means it isn’t at all in good health. At this moment the animal is suffering,” said Environment and Energy Deputy Minister Giorgos Amyras, who was on the scene. He said two specialized veterinarians, a specialized veterinary nurse and four aid organizations had been brought in to try to save the whale.

A blood sample had been drawn and sent for analysis to determine what medication the animal might need, while an antibiotic had already been administered, Amyras said.

“The prognosis unfortunately isn’t good,” the deputy minister said, noting that the whale’s natural habitat was in deep water. “The fact that it has been in these shallow waters for so many hours doesn’t give us much hope. But we of course are doing everything possible to save the animal, which is a Mediterranean species, a jewel of the Greek seas, and I hope it makes it and that we can help it.” [AP]

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A rescue team of divers and vets attempt to care for a whale calf that became stranded in shallow water in a southern Athens seaside area, on Friday. [AP]