Friday, August 22, 2008




"GROWN men were in tears as Colin the abandoned baby humpback whale struggled as he was dragged behind a boat before being left to thrash on a beach after he was injected with a fatal dose of anaesthetic this morning.

Soon after 8.30am (AEST) officers from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) at the Basin in Sydney's northern beaches gave the calf what was believed to be as many as seven jabs of anaesthetic.

"It's a tragic end to a program that dozens of people have put their hearts and souls into," said NPWS spokesman John Dengate, describing the act of ending Colin's life as "harrowing".

NPWS spokesman Chris McIntosh said: "It was a sad moment, but it went quietly to sleep. "The calf has been quietly and humanely euthanised.' A vet on board a small boat administered an anaesthetic through a large needle, by simply leaning overboard and injecting the weakened humpback calf, he said. But activists said more could have been done to save Colin and locals who witnessed Colin's death said it lacked dignity.

Locals were in tears after the whale was euthanased.

In a shallow cove at Coasters Retreat, NPWS officers and Sea World Vet David Blyde administered about seven injections before towing the whale across the bay.

The local community was outraged at how the NPWS dragged the baby whale, bucking and thrashing, across 300m of water. It was still thrashing when it was pulled up on the beach. “I don’t understand why they didn’t let it die quietly,” said Michael Brown.
“It was obviously distressed. I’m 41 years old and almost collapsed.” Mr Brown and other locals were crying as the baby whale - which had sought refuge in the bay for five days - was lashed by ropes to the NPWS boat as it continued to struggle.
"After this comedy of errors of the past few days I thought that they would euthanase it with some dignity,” said Mr Brown. “For God's sake, it’s a baby. It’s been through hell. It was separated from its mother, it’s been starved and confused.”

A spokesman for the Divine Marine Group said they had organised a legal injunction against the NPWS to prevent Colin being killed but could not serve it in time.

"We had five minutes and during that time they euthanased poor Colin," Captain Alexander John Littingham said on Fairfax radio.

"That was a scene that we witnessed ... and then they towed the whale behind their National Parks and Wildlife boat. It looked like a scene out of the Antarctic with a Japanese fishing boat.

"It was absolutely disgusting."

Capt Littingham said the group had wanted to use a force-feeding system with an electronic pump.

The Environment Department said Colin was euthanased without causing the whale any stress.

"Vets who euthanased the animal said it was a smooth operation and the sedated animal remained stress free and calm throughout," it said.

Police kept the media and environmentalists at a distance while the whale remained on the beach.

It was later loaded onto a trailer to be taken to Taronga Zoo for an autopsy.

The autopsy will be aimed at finding clues as to why the whale was deserted by its mother - beginning the tragic story that has gripped the country."

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