A stranded baby humpback whale lies on an Australian beach Tuesday shortly before it was euthanized.
updated 7/18/2006 12:01:15 PM ET 2006-07-18T16:01:15

Australian wildlife officials on Tuesday euthanized a baby humpback whale that was stranded on an eastern Australian beach, saying it had virtually no chance of survival without its mother.

Dozens of volunteers joined with local marine authorities to try to save the 11-foot whale after it became stranded on Cabarita Beach in northern New South Wales state on Monday.

Rescuers sent a helicopter to locate the whale's mother, but found no trace.

‘Zero chance of survival’
"We have been up in the helicopter and there's nothing that remotely looks like an animal concerned about this calf, so its mother is not hanging around," said David Blyde, a veterinarian at Australia's SeaWorld. "Without its mother it has zero chance of survival out there."

Blyde said authorities decided to give the whale calf a lethal dose of anesthetic.

"If we'd put it back in the water the best-case scenario is that it will starve to death. The worst scenario is that some sharks will come and rip it apart," he said.

Difficult decision
A spokesman for the state's Parks and Wildlife department, Lawrence Orel, said it was a difficult decision.

The baby humpback is seen shortly before it was euthanized.
"If the animal was put back to sea without its mother, it would simply drown or starve or be taken by sharks," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. "So given those options, it's really been a decision taken in the best interests of the animal."

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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