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Humpback ‘Johannes’ dies, ending Dutch whale of a tale

THE HAGUE: A 12-meter (32-feet) humpback whale dubbed “Johannes” has died after being stranded near a northern Dutch island, officials said yesterday, ending a four-day saga that’s gripped animal-loving Netherlands. “We have... received confirmation from a whale expert appointed by the government that the humpback has died,” said the municipality of the Frisian island of Texel.
“The animal will be removed as soon as possible... from the sandbank,” it said in a statement published on its website. The drama started Wednesday after the beached whale was discovered as it tried to free itself from the sandbank just south of Texel, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Amsterdam.
Dutch daily newspapers tracked the aquatic mammal’s daily progress, sometimes devoting a whole page to the story. Nature conservation group Ecomare announced Friday a last rescue attempt had been called off, after it failed to pull the animal to deeper water late on Thursday after a net around the animal broke and a helicopter experienced technical problems.
The rescue was also hampered by strong currents, high waves and wind in the area called the “Razende Bol” (Raging Ball) in Dutch. Late Friday, veterinarians injected the animal with a massive dose of tranquilizer in order to euthanize it, but on Saturday Dutch national television showed images of the whale again trying to free itself off the bank.
This prompted accusations by animal rights activists — including militant conservation group Sea Shepherd — and a Dutch animal rights party that not enough had been done to save “Johannes.”