Divers bid to rescue young whale stranded in shallow water off Athens

Greece, Whales, Europe

Divers, vets and the coastguard are mounting a rescue operation to help an injured whale calf trapped in shallow water in a seaside area of the Greek capital.

The animal is a young Cuvier’s beaked whale, or Ziphius cavirostris, according to Arion, a research organisation that provides veterinary care for stranded cetaceans.

The species usually lives in deep waters, and it is unclear how it was injured and why it became stranded in the Alimos area of southern Athens.

The whale was sighted in shallow water in the nearby area of Vouliagmeni on Thursday, and divers were called in to lead it out to sea.

The operation initially appeared to be successful, but the animal returned to shallow waters on Friday morning.

“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 specialised vets, a specialised veterinary nurse and four aid organisations had been brought in to try to save the whale.

Blood tests and an examination showed the whale to be in “very serious” condition, the Environment and Energy Ministry said on Friday afternoon.

The animal was found to have suffered a severe injury to its lower jaw and multiple superficial wounds to its body. Initial results from clinical tests revealed it was also suffering from severe dehydration, a low while blood cell count and anaemia, the ministry said.

More tests were being carried out, while rescuers were administering fluids, electrolytes and medication and were closely monitoring the whale.

Mr Amyras said: “The prognosis unfortunately isn’t good.

“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.”

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