The Heartwrenching Euthanization of a Wounded Whale in the South of Tenerife

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The overwhelming story of Jacobo, marine biologist who participated in the euthanasia of the wounded whale in the south of Tenerife: “I am very sorry”

The image of a whale dying in the waters of Tenerife shook the media of the islands just a few days ago. It was a young Pilot Whale that was badly wounded, with its caudal fin almost sectioned after, most likely, a collision with a boat in the south of the island.

Cabildo de Tenerife veterinarians who perform their duties at the La Tahonilla Wildlife Recovery Center were forced that day, on Sunday March 24, to sacrifice the specimen, about two meters in length, due to the mortal injury  it presented. .

The presence of La Tahonilla personnel in the area where the wounded whale was found was made possible thanks to the collaboration of the Tonina and ACEST associations, which warned and supported to give appropriate assistance to the animal.

Days after the incident, one of the people who witnessed the last minutes of the mammal’s life that day wanted to express in writing the profound impact that the event had on him. This is Jacobo Marrero Pérez, doctor in Marine Biology by the ULL and member of the Tonina association.

Under the title Carta a calderón called Hope , Jacobo, after referring to the waters near the south of Tenerife as an “authentic sanctuary” for cetaceans, reflects on the difficult coexistence of this place and its inhabitants with the island’s tourism development . “Unfortunately, the nautical pressure to which these animals are subjected in our tourist area par excellence is excessive and the situation is totally out of control,” he says while considering  “inadmissible, intolerable, unsustainable” to continue as before.

A whale “crying”

Jacobo says that he received a message that day from one of the whale watching companies, White Tenerife, telling him that there was a wounded whale that looked like it was “crying.” Then go to the right place, along with photographer Francis Perez, “with administrative permission to swim with cetaceans.”

The marine biologist then tells what happened when they found the dying animal. “You were alone, but your family had not abandoned you,” he explains, “they were there and your calls made them come.”

Jacobo explains that when they saw the pictures that Francis had just taken, they “broke his heart” and that, even today, he does not know with certainty if the wound was produced by a boat or another animal. “But I did not care then and he keeps giving me now, my only concern was you”, he adds.

In the eerie video recorded by Francis Perez, you can see Hope, the name with which Jacobo baptized the animal, swimming with great difficulty with its caudal fin practically detached from the body. Surrounded by other members of her group, the whale tries to swim, but is unable to propel herself.

“You had me as a small child without knowing what to do,” says Jacobo, helpless before the scene. The moment arrived, after evaluating the wound, to make a decision.  The veterinarian at the La Tahonilla center recommended that the animal be euthanized. But for that, it had to be captured, something not easy. Jacobo, in addition, adds that they had “neither the experience nor the means to do it”.

When they finally succeeded, they injected several doses of the battered whale, but when it seemed that he had already surrendered, the call of his family group seemed to wake him up. “We had to get on one of the boats so you would stop listening to your family and calm down,” he recalls excitedly. Then, yes, the whale died. “Your head ended up next to my feet, that’s when I broke up and I could not take it anymore, I started crying,” he confesses.

“Go away”

“How small, how useless, how sad I felt at that moment,” says Jacobo. “Please, go, go now, I’m so sorry” was the only thing this experienced scientist could think in the last moments of the whale still alive. As he explains, “neither scientific publications nor technical reports” had helped him to save the animal. “I’m still broken by what happened to you,” he confesses.

The Heartwrenching Euthanization of a Wounded Whale in the South of Tenerife

The exciting and sad experience described by this doctor in marine biology reveals with the utmost harshness one of the consequences of the current situation in the south of the island, with dozens of boats dedicated to the sighting of cetaceans and other animals, like turtles, in the most touristic coast of the island.

Thus, so far this year the annual average of whale stranding on the island has already been exceeded. The last case, this same weekend, when a sperm whale of 8 meters appeared dead on the coast of El Medano , apparently also after an accident with a boat.

For its part, the Cabildo de Tenerife  has sent a letter to Ana Oñoro, general director of Sustainability of the Coast and Sea, under the Ministry of Ecological Transition, which exposes the importance of the sector of the observation of cetaceans for the island and calls for the cessation of the licensing of vessels that develop this activity in the outer waters of Tenerife until the completion of the study on the carrying capacity in the Teno-Rasca Special Conservation Zone.

In addition, administrations and researchers have already warned of the enormous danger to which the cetaceans of southern Tenerife are exposed , given the large number of boats in the area.

The sad case of Hope, with its broken fin and its fatal outcome, may serve to “do something once and for all in the SW [Southwest] of Tenerife, and not just anything to get away from it. That’s nothing, they have to be effective measures and they really serve to protect you, “Jacobo concludes his letter.


Source: El Diario