Hunger, dehydration killed London whale

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THE whale that died in the Thames was trying to return to the Atlantic Ocean, scientists said Wednesday.

Her navigation instincts told her to head west. So once she had taken a wrong turning from the Atlantic into the North Sea she followed her nose. Instead of swimming back to deep waters where she could feed on squid, she ended up in the middle of London.

The whale was unable to survive in the Thames because she had been unable to eat for at least three days, scientists said.

This lack of food led to severe dehydration, which was cited yesterday as a factor in her death. Whales and dolphins obtain water from their food but it is thought that the northern bottlenose whale had found nothing to eat in the North Sea or the Thames.

Muscle damage and a reduction in her kidney function also contributed to death, according to the preliminary findings of the post-mortem examination conducted by Paul Jepson, a veterinary pathologist, and his team at the Zoological Society of London.

There was no evidence of haemorrhaging and Dr Jepson ruled out the involvement of anti-submarine sonar as a possible cause of death. He did not think anything further could have been done to save her.

Dr Jepson said: