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Rescuers work into the night to save whale stranded in River Thames

·2-min read
Rescue personnel work to save a small whale stranded in the River Thames -  @RICHARDFRANK
Rescue personnel work to save a small whale stranded in the River Thames - @RICHARDFRANK

A small whale has been rescued after becoming stranded along the River Thames in south-west London.

Hundreds gathered at Richmond Lock and Weir on Sunday evening after the whale, believed to be a Minke whale - between three to four metres long, became stuck.

Videos showed it being hosed down by a man, while a vet performed a check-up at the river's edge, before the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) arrived at the scene to cheers at around 9pm.

A witness said that "quite the crowd" watched as the attempted rescue took place.

Jake Manketo, 20, from Richmond, said: "Everyone here is just hoping they get it out.

"We couldn't believe our eyes when we first saw the poor fella, not every day something like this happens in Richmond."

Rescue attempts are made to try and save a small whale stranded in the River Thames - @dkfitldn
Rescue attempts are made to try and save a small whale stranded in the River Thames - @dkfitldn

The whale was said to be stuck on the lock's boat rollers, as emergency staff worked to set it free.

Fire crews have also been pictured at the scene, along with the British Divers Marine Life Rescue service.

People gathered to watch as the team worked to remove the whale from the lock, hosing the animal down, and then putting a large yellow float around it, video footage obtained by Reuters showed.

Nearly four hours later the whale was successfully moved to a safer location, the BBC reported.

It is believed the whale was first spotted at midday a few miles up the river near Barnes Bridge.

A spokesman for the Port of London Authority, which owns and operates the lock, earlier said: "At around 7pm on Sunday, a small whale, approximately 3-4m long, believed to be a Minke whale, became stranded at Richmond Lock and Weir.

"PLA staff have attempted to assist the whale with water along with British Divers Marine Life Rescue.

"The whale is still alive and the Metropolitan Police are working to keep the public away from the water's edge."

Minke whales are the smallest of the great whales, growing to about 10m.

They can usually be found throughout the northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Their range extends from the ice edge in the Arctic during the summer to near the equator during winter.

The lock is situated between Teddington and Richmond, comprising of three vertical steel gates suspended from a footbridge.

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