A RARE whale has died after becoming trapped in the waters of Wicklow Harbour.
The animal, a Sowerby's beaked whale, is not usually found in the Irish Sea as it is not its native habitat, and experts say it could not survive in such a climate.
The Chief Executive of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group said it was likely the whale had suffered an acoustic trauma which made it unable to properly navigate and led to it getting lost along the east coast, ending up in the shallow waters of the Wicklow Harbour.
Beaked wales are usually found in very deep waters, and the acoustic injury would have left it unable to hunt, dropping weight quickly; the crowds which had gathered along the harbour to see the whale would also have added to its distress and suffering, CEO Simon Berrow said.
However he also said that saving the whale and pushing it back into the Irish Sea would also have increased its pain and suffering, and euthanasia on an animal that size would have been extremely difficult due to the whale's large size and public safety concerns.
Therefore, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group had no choice but to allow the whale to die naturally in the harbour before retrieving its body.
The whale has now been taken from the harbour and will be taken to the DAFM Regional Vet Laboratory in Backweston for a post-mortem, which will "give us some insight into how this wonderful animal live and died".
"While it is always sad to witness the passing of a wild animal, it is hoped that by carrying out this necropsy we may be able to shed some light on how this animal lived and died, as well as add to our knowledge of this elusive species," the IWDG wrote on Facebook.
They went on to thank the Irish Coastguard, Wicklow Sailing Club and Alphamarine Ltd, as well as members of the public, for their help in retrieving the whale from the waters.