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Whale still caught in net

5th August 2003

BBC News

Minke whales weigh around 10 tonnes

Animal welfare experts are continuing efforts to free an injured Minke whale caught in a trawler net off the west Wales coast.
It is believed the six-metre whale may have been tangled in the net for up to a week off the coast of New Quay, Ceredigion.

RSPCA inspectors tried in vain to rescue it when it was found on Monday and so far fresh attempts have been unsuccessful.

The whale was originally spotted by passengers on a pleasure boat, 250 metres off the shore.

They reported the sighting to coastguards at Milford Haven who alerted the RSPCA.

After a fruitless search involving a police helicopter, RSPCA inspector Richard Abbott and a team of whale experts on a boat finally found the injured juvenile whale on Monday around half a mile out at sea.

Net tangled

Inspector Abbott said the six-metre long whale has damaged
areas of skin and may have been caught in the net for up to a

The net appears to be wound around the nose and left fin.
The rescue team were able to approach to within a metre of
the whale but could not cut it free.

Rescuers failed to find the net-entangled whale

On Tuesday, two boats combed an area of Cardigan Bay but failed to find the whale. Experts say that only a small area can be seen when it surfaces to breath, making it difficult to spot.

BBC Wales reporter Steve Jones, who was on the rescue boat, said: "Both boats returned to New Quay and are on standby to launch a third rescue attempt if the whale is spotted.

"A false alarm was raised when they spotted some Manx shearwaters circling what they thought was a whale.

"It turned out to be one of the many dolphins which frequent the bay."

An RSPCA spokesman appealed to boat owners in the area to alert the team through the coastguards if they spot the injured whale.

Another whale - a pilot whale - was found stranded in rocks at Mill Bay on St Ann's Head over the weekend.

The whale was dead, and it is not yet clear whether the two strandings were are connected.

Coastguards, however, have said it would be unusual for two to be found in similar circumstances in such a short space of time.