Local residents make plan to help whale stuck in Danish harbour

A ten-metre-long whale has been swimming near the harbour at Hobro in northern Jutland since November 27th.

Local residents make plan to help whale stuck in Danish harbour
The whale swimming off Hobro on November 28th. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

A group of local volunteers are now set to attempt to help the animal back out to sea.

Ivar Høst, a consultant with the Danish Nature Agency, said last week that the whale’s presence in the shallow area was a sign that it was sick and was unlikely to survive for long.

But Høst told Ritzau on Monday that the whale seemed in good condition, and that people in the town were preparing an attempt to save it.

“A plan is being put together by private individuals who want to help push it out of the fjord,” Høst said in reference to Mariager Fjord, the waterway in which the aquatic mammal appears to be lost.

“We have had our doubts as to whether this will be successful, but we don’t want to obstruct it. We will observe the attempt,” Høst said.

Susan Sand, one of a number of people who last week jumped into the freezing harbour to help free the whale after it got stuck, is the organiser behind the effort to help the animal back into open waters.

Sand approached Høst with her idea over the weekend, and the Nature Agency has since said it has no objections to the project.

A part of the plan will be to make noise in the water while others sail behind the whale in an effort to direct it back towards the sea.

“We have a plan, and it will be huge,” Sand said.

“We are going to actively use spectators at the harbour as part of the plan. We currently number 120-150 people who want to help,” she said.

The volunteer did not further elaborate on the plan, saying she would further consult with experts so as to avoid putting the whale at extra risk.

“The whale is at risk of dying, we know that, but we will try not to hurt it and we won’t physically touch it,” she said.

Sand also noted her disappointment that the Nature Agency declined to take part in the rescue action.

“I think it’s a shame nothing is being done (by the agency). It seems to me a little bit as though they don’t know what they should do,” she said.

Høst, who has viewed the whale on most days since it showed up at Hobro, said he had not seen any apparent change in its condition.

“It is swimming in the same way as before. I was there as recently as yesterday, and its condition does not seem to have worsened,” he said.

Biologist Carl Kinze told broadcaster DR on Monday that the whale is of the sei whale variety, and is not a northern minke whale as Høst initially thought.

“If an expert like Carl Kinze says that, I am happy to support his view,” Høst said.

The sei whale is a moderately endangered species, but the Nature Agency’s approach is the same, he said.

“As an authority, we will not try to save it. We are monitoring the situation and will allow nature to take its course,” he said.

READ ALSO: Whale helped free by passers-by after getting stuck at Danish quayside


Norwegian authorities tow stray cargo ship to safety

Norwegian maritime authorities said late Wednesday that they had begun towing a Dutch cargo ship that was drifting dangerously towards the coast after the crew were forced to abandon it.

Norwegian authorities tow stray cargo ship to safety
JRRC South Norway / AFP

The 12-man crew of the “Eemslift Hendrika” was rescued Monday in a challenging two-stage operation after they issued a distress call while steaming from Bremerhaven in Germany to the Norwegian port of Kolvereid.

The cargo ship was carrying several smaller vessels, and began to list after high winds and huge waves displaced some of its cargo.

The “Eemslift Hendrika” also suffered an engine failure and started drifting towards the Norwegian coastline.

WATCH: Norwegian Rescue services evacuated crew from ship adrift at sea 

Eight of its crew members were airlifted by helicopter from the cargo ship’s deck by Norwegian rescue services but the last four had to jump into
the water to be plucked from the sea.

Video images showed strong waves rocking the ship as it listed to the starboard (right) side.

Towing operations were due to have begun Thursday, but the ship deviated from its predicted trajectory and drifted even closer towards the coast,
prompting maritime authorities to rush into action.

“The tow is now attached,” the Norwegian Coastal Administration(Kystverket) said on its website late Wednesday. “The risk of grounding has
been averted.”

On Thursday, the “Eemslift Hendrika” was being towed slowly towards the Norwegian port of Alesund and Kystverket said “no particular challenges” had been encountered overnight.