Whale euthanized with explosives

It’s been almost exactly three years since the last time explosives were used to end the life of a suffering whale. This merciful act has happened again today, September 30, 2008, in West Australia.

Explosives have been used to put down a dying 15 tonne humpback whale stranded in shallow waters at Jurien Bay. The whale thrashed its tail for at least five minutes after the blast, which was authorised by the Department of Environment….

Department of Environment spokesman Nigel Higgs confirmed the whale’s death just after 5pm. “We have just euthanised the whale and we will propose to bury it on site,” Mr. Higgs said. The whale was euthanised by a technique which caused an implosion into its brain.

“It went as well as it can be expected, it is a big animal,” Mr Higgs said.

A 1km exclusion zone was enforced around the whale while the procedure took place.

Not surprisingly, the act was condemned by a former whale rescuer and animal activist:

The veteran animal campaigner said the 10m whale should be towed back out to sea for a chance of survival.

“I have always believed in rescuing and giving them a chance of survival,” he said. “I’ve seen whales in the past that vets thought were on their last legs and wouldn’t survive. Yet we have got them out and they’ve been leading the whales out there.”

The 10m juvenile humpback had been stranded in shallow waters at Jurien Bay for almost a week and was suffering from severe skin lesions and sunburn. Wildlife officers tested the whale’s reflexes earlier today and said it reacted in a way a whale normally would not.

The question rages on. Should whales in this type of situation be given every chance at survival even if it means further injuring the animal or causing even greater suffering as it is slowly eaten and killed by predators? Should we act with compassion and mercy to limit their suffering by expediting their death? Or should we intercede at all?

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