Beached Whale Defies Death From 'Lethal Injection'

beached whale in brazil photo
Photo via Globo

For the last six days, a 50-foot-long right whale has been stranded on a beach in Brazil, still alive but too weak to return to the sea - and for the last six days, authorities have been puzzled with what to do with it. Teams of biologists and volunteers have worked tirelessly, bucketing water over the 40-ton animal to keep it comfortable, although animal rights activists say the endangered whale ¨can´t be saved.¨ But even after receiving a powerful 'lethal injection', the whale still clings to life.

According to Globo, efforts to handle the beached whale humanely have led to the coordination of several agencies, including Brazil´s Environmental Police, the Environmental Protection Area of the Right Whale Institute Chico Mendes (APA), Navy of Brazil, Whale Project, as well as several NGOs working on the scene. They are debating now whether or not to inject another lethal cocktail into the animal to end its suffering, or to let it die naturally.

Karina Groch, from Project Whale, a group trying to help the beached animal:

We are evaluating the possibility of a new procedure for euthanasia, this time with other medicines and ways of application. However, besides the bureaucracy, this involves special tools and a high cost. Since we are sure that this is the best decision to be made, our commitment of time and knowledge will be complete and we are committed to go in search of resources in order to shorten this.

Marine biologists say that the animal will likely not survive much longer, and that the cooler temperatures of the sand in south Brazil may be contributing to its extended survival, as hyperthermia usually kills beached whales.

Still, biologists and veterinarians are on the scene to monitor the animal´s vital signs and to help keep its skin moist. When death is confirmed, the whale will be autopsied then buried.

Failing health, injury from boats or sharks, poisonous patches of red algae, and even anomalies in the Earth´s magnetic field are all thought to be factors that lead whales and dolphins to beach themselves - though the actual reason remains a mystery in almost half the beaching cases.

Even if it is never known just why the stranded whale ended up beached on the shores of Brazil, the efforts of those helping to ease its suffering speak wonders to the perseverance of human sympathy.

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