A STRANDED minke whale has been rescued from a beach at Hartlepool.

A Humber Coastguard spokesman said the alarm was raised at around 11am on Saturday when the marine mammal was seen on Fish Beach, at the the Headland, close to the Town Wall at 11am on Saturday.

Members of the Hartlepool Coastguard Rescue Team arrived on the scene as the tide was coming in and helped keep the animal afloat until the arrival of British Divers Marine Life Rescue.

The charity's rescue coordinator, Julia Cable, said: "Our trained marine mammal medics responded swiftly and with assistance from the the local coastguard team were able to reach the stranded animal and provide support in the water while we waited for equipment to arrive and sought advice from an experienced veterinarian.

"With the tide rising we needed to keep the animal close to shore without causing it to strand, so that we could continue to assess its breathing and manoeuvre it onto rescue pontoons for the safety of our volunteers and others in the water.

"Once the equipment was in place the teams assembled the rescue pontoons so that the whale was held safely between them, but before we were able to fully inflate them the whale made a sudden movement and swam away."

At 6pm the British Divers Marine Life Rescue said there had been no further reported sighting of the minke whale.

Ms Cable said: "The whale was seen swimming into an area of deeper water and with many people in the area looking for it, plus a number of people watching the dolphins nearby, we hope it has passed by everyone unnoticed and is now swimming in open water.

"Thank you to everyone who assisted our team and to HM Coastguard for their support.

  • British Divers Marine Life Rescue is an organisation dedicated to the rescue and well being of all marine animals in distress around the UK. http://www.bdmlr.org.uk/ RESCUE HOTLINE: 01825 765546.