Rescuers fail to save sick whale

A sick whale had to be put down last night after it repeatedly beached itself on sandbanks.

The northern bottlenose whale was stranded on harbour flats in Langstone, Hampshire, for around 12 hours in total.

Marine scientists had been about to put it down when it refloated in shallow water. But blood tests taken from the mammal were sent for testing and showed that it was suffering from irreversible renal failure.

Last night, the 26ft long whale became beached again on the East Winner sandbank, Hayling Island. Paul Jepson and Rob Deaville, vets from the Zoological Society of London, a vet from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue and a team of marine medics then worked together to administer a fast-acting, fatal dose of anaesthetic.

The six-tonne young adult had become dehydrated and hungry, and dangerous toxins had built up because its organs had been compressed under its body on the sandbanks near Langstone Mill. Faye Archell, the director of divers rescue team, said: "There's no coming back from renal failure."

About 50 people, including firefighters, marine biologists, Coastguard and RNLI staff had been involved in attempts to save the whale.

A northern bottlenose whale was stranded in the river Thames in London in January 2006. It later died.