Whale freed after eight-hour battle on the Humber

RESCUERS are hoping a young whale has reunited itself with its mother after getting stranded on the Humber.

A mammoth rescue operation swung into action yesterday to save the minke whale which was beached on a mud bank outside Immingham Docks. Several reports suggested its mother had been spotted circling in the middle of the river.

After eight hours the 27ft long animal finally freed itself with the help of rescuers and headed out into the river.

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Watch officer Paul Hutson, from Humber Coastguard, said: “Hopefully it has floated free and with a bit of luck has been reunited with its mother. The test will be as darkness falls and there is low water. If unfortunately it becomes stranded again, we wouldn’t know about it until well into the morning.”

The Cleethorpes lifeboat, Humber Rescue inshore lifeboat, RSPCA, British Divers Marine Life Rescue and Humberside Fire and Rescue swung into action after the alarm was raised. As the tide came back in, rescuers, up to their waists in mud, faced a race against time to get the five- to six-ton whale upright and turned around. Around 2.30pm they thought they were successful, but it turned back round.

Some high-speed turns by the inshore lifeboat appeared to do the trick, creating waves and agitating the animal, which flapped its tail and made off. Mr Hutson said: “Nature will take its course. We’d like to think it has gone out with the tide.”