Thursday, August 21, 2008


From Sydney Morning Herald:


"Authorities today will use an inflatable sling in an attempt to unite a baby humpback whale with other whales in a bid to save its life.However experts say it is not physically possible to look after the calf and very little can be done.

The listless and abandoned calf - who has been named Colin - has not eaten for at least five days, and has been attempting to suckle boats around Pittwater, apparently mistaking them for its mother.

"A senior vet [from Taronga Zoo] examined the whale last night and, while the whale is not distressed, his condition has deteriorated as he hasn't fed in days," a NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service spokeswoman said.

"The plan today is to use an inflatable sling to try to get the whale further out to sea where he might hook up with another pod of whales.

"That's probably its best bet."

It was hoped the sling would be more effective in reuniting the whale calf with a lactating female than previous efforts had, she said.

"Previously the whale was lured out to sea by following a yacht that it thought was its mother, but then it turned around and came back in because I think it was still attached to the yacht.
"If we can get it into the sling, we can get it further out to the ocean into deeper water and hopefully closer to another pod of whales."

The National Parks spokeswoman could not say when the attempt would take place.
Late last night, the National Parks contacted the Defence Department regarding the use of a "fuel bladder", believed to be the proposed inflatable sling, a Defence Department spokeswoman said.

The department was still considering the request, she said.

Feeding whale baby formula impossible: expertsRescue measures such as feeding the whale baby formula through a tube or trying to raise it in captivity have been dismissed as impossible by whale experts.

Finding a lactating female to accept the calf was the best best, although even this was unlikely, experts have said.

"If a lactating female with a calf goes past and this calf approaches that animal it may accept it, but ... it's a very slim chance," NPWS spokesman John Dengate said.

Meanwhile, as the young calf's plight sparked passionate discussion on blogs and social-networking sites, its battle for survival has also made international news. CNN, BBC and international wire news services have all covered the story."

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