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Sickly minke disappears from Newfoundland harbour, its fate unknown

Last Updated Jun 19, 2018 at 1:20 pm PST

HARBOUR GRACE, N.L. – Rescuers have lost sight of a sickly looking minke whale, last seen heading for open ocean Tuesday after being freed from shallow waters off eastern Newfoundland.

Wayne Ledwell of Whale Release and Strandings had helped free the whale Monday near the town of Harbour Grace, only to watch it linger nearby.

He returned Tuesday morning, and was told it had died overnight.

Then he saw it, swimming around.

They watched as it headed several kilometres toward the open waters of Conception Bay, often doubling back but slowly making its way down the long harbour.

The whale is an adult — about seven metres long and probably weighing between two and three tonnes.

“It sort of meandered its way out of the harbour,” Ledwell said Tuesday. “The last we saw of it, it was a kilometre out.”

“We don’t know where it is now. Hopefully, it doesn’t go back in again.”

Ledwell said the whale is emaciated, with its ribs visible and some skin sloughing off. Its behaviour was typical of a whale that seemed determined to beach itself, he said.

“It doesn’t look too good,” said Ledwell. “He surprised us this morning, so hopefully he can surprise us again.”

“Sometimes an animal will get a bit of extra energy.”