Injured young whale treated off Athens found dead days later

FILE - A rescue team of divers and vets attempt to care for a whale calf that became stranded in shallow water in a southern Athens seaside area, on Friday, Jan. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis, File)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A sick whale calf that had been the center of a rescue operation when it appeared in shallows off an Athens suburb has died several days after being led out to deeper waters, Greek authorities said.

The body of the young Cuvier’s beaked whale was found Wednesday off Salamis island, a few miles from the beach of Alimos where it was last seen on Jan. 28.

Deputy Environment and Energy Minister Giorgos Amyras said the cetacean was located by a coast guard vessel that had been patrolling the area.

“Despite the superhuman efforts since last Friday by coast guard and navy divers, as well as vets, medics and volunteers ... to keep the injured and weak animal alive, unfortunately the young mammal didn’t make it,” he said.

Amyras added that the initial medical tests carried out on the whale had left experts very pessimistic as to the outcome.

“But we did everything humanly possible to save it,” he added.

The species usually inhabits deep waters, and it was unclear how it had been injured and why it became stranded. Experts had said that its presence in shallow waters indicated that it was unwell.

Experts will now try to establish what had been wrong with the whale.

During last week’s efforts to help the cetacean, a volunteer sang to it and a video of that scene drew laudatory outpourings on social media. However, the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation issued a statement Tuesday criticizing the attempted rescue operation, including the singing incident, saying the disturbance caused by the presence of so many people was not appropriate for an exhausted, injured whale.