Local residents make plan to help whale stuck in Danish harbour

Local residents make plan to help whale stuck in Danish harbour
The whale swimming off Hobro on November 28th. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix
A ten-metre-long whale has been swimming near the harbour at Hobro in northern Jutland since November 27th.

A group of local volunteers are now set to attempt to help the animal back out to sea.

Ivar Høst, a consultant with the Danish Nature Agency, said last week that the whale’s presence in the shallow area was a sign that it was sick and was unlikely to survive for long.

But Høst told Ritzau on Monday that the whale seemed in good condition, and that people in the town were preparing an attempt to save it.

“A plan is being put together by private individuals who want to help push it out of the fjord,” Høst said in reference to Mariager Fjord, the waterway in which the aquatic mammal appears to be lost.

“We have had our doubts as to whether this will be successful, but we don’t want to obstruct it. We will observe the attempt,” Høst said.

Susan Sand, one of a number of people who last week jumped into the freezing harbour to help free the whale after it got stuck, is the organiser behind the effort to help the animal back into open waters.

Sand approached Høst with her idea over the weekend, and the Nature Agency has since said it has no objections to the project.

A part of the plan will be to make noise in the water while others sail behind the whale in an effort to direct it back towards the sea.

“We have a plan, and it will be huge,” Sand said.

“We are going to actively use spectators at the harbour as part of the plan. We currently number 120-150 people who want to help,” she said.

The volunteer did not further elaborate on the plan, saying she would further consult with experts so as to avoid putting the whale at extra risk.

“The whale is at risk of dying, we know that, but we will try not to hurt it and we won’t physically touch it,” she said.

Sand also noted her disappointment that the Nature Agency declined to take part in the rescue action.

“I think it’s a shame nothing is being done (by the agency). It seems to me a little bit as though they don’t know what they should do,” she said.

Høst, who has viewed the whale on most days since it showed up at Hobro, said he had not seen any apparent change in its condition.

“It is swimming in the same way as before. I was there as recently as yesterday, and its condition does not seem to have worsened,” he said.

Biologist Carl Kinze told broadcaster DR on Monday that the whale is of the sei whale variety, and is not a northern minke whale as Høst initially thought.

“If an expert like Carl Kinze says that, I am happy to support his view,” Høst said.

The sei whale is a moderately endangered species, but the Nature Agency’s approach is the same, he said.

“As an authority, we will not try to save it. We are monitoring the situation and will allow nature to take its course,” he said.

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