Iceland Mag

5 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag


Heroic attempt to rescue stranded whale in N. Iceland, proved unsuccessful

By Staff

  • Rescue operation Members of the local ICE-SAR company, Police, local fishermen and the regional vetenary officer participated in the rescue operation. Photo/Police in NW Iceland, Höskuldur Erlingsson.

A sei whale which had stranded in Hrútafjörður fjord in North Iceland died during attempts by ICE-SAR, police and local fishermen to rescue the animal. The whale is believed to have died of exhaustion and wounds it suffered while attempting to escape to sea. The whale had lost significant quantity of blood when rescuers arrived at the scene.

ICE-SAR called out to rescue beached whale
The whale had been swimming on shallows deep in the fjord, but was left stranded when the tide turned. Police in North West Iceland received a report of the stranded whale at two in the afternoon on Saturday. Officers and the local ICE-SAR company Húni in Hvammstangi village were dispatched to the scene to attempt to get the whale back into deep waters.

Read more: Search and Rescue units stop a pod of pilot whales from swimming into village harbour

According to a statement from the Police in North West Iceland the whale had already attempted to free itself when rescuers arrived at the scene, causing serious wounds and significant bleeding. In addition to the police and ICE-SAR the crew of a local fishing boat participated in the rescue attempt.

Whale in extreme distress
Kristján Svavar Guðmundsson, the captain of the local ICE-SAR company told the local newspaper Morgunblaðið that the operation took three hours. The whale thrashed around on the shallows, making it extremely difficult for the rescuers to approach and attach lines to pull the animal to safety.

The rescuers were finally able to get to the whale and attach a rope to it. When the whale had been pulled out to open water it became clear it had not survived being stuck in shallow waters. Initially the whale seemed to have survived the ordeal, as early reports of the rescue celebrated it as a success.

Whale had already lost a lot of blood
Tragically, however, the whale disappeared beneath the waves a short while after it had been pulled from the shallows, never to re-surface. Kristján Svavar told Morgunblaðið the whale initially seemed to have survived the ordeal: 

"She was already exhausted when she had been pulled out to deep waters. She splashed around in the water, and she was breathing. But it wasn't clear if she would survive the ordeal."

The the whale was then pulled to Hvammstangi harbour. A full autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death. 

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