Ten whales found stranded on Calais beach

An "exceptional" rescue effort took place on a beach near the northern French port town of Calais on Monday to save four of ten whales who were found washed up on a beach by a local resident.

Ten whales found stranded on Calais beach
Photo: AFP

A local woman made the shock discovery at around 7.30am as she walked along the beach.

In front of her lay ten beached pilot whales of around four metres long, La Voix du Nord newspaper reported.

Sadly by the time animal rescuers reached the scene six of the ten whales had died and only four remained alive.

Firefighters and members of the local Animal Protection League (LPA) launched a rescue mission to try to save the surviving whales.

Officials said it was the first operation to rescue whales of its kind in the Calais region on this scale.

The video below shows firefighters hosing down the whales to avoid them becoming dehydrated while diggers were dispatched to try to get the whales back into the water.

By 9.30am two of the animals were successfully back in the water, while the other two were eventually returned to the water just over an hour later.

Rescuers said the remaining whales would only survive if all four were able to get back in the sea.


According to Jacky Karpouzopoulos from the Pelagis mammal research centre in La Rochelle, the beaching of ten whales in France is “out of the ordinary”.

The expert told La Voix du Nord that the whales were part of one family and the likely cause of the beaching is that the dominant male died at sea and the rest of the family accompanied him to the shore.

Experts do not believe it was caused by a failure of sonar, loss of direction or a collision with a ferry.

The six dead mammals will be taken away to be studied at the University of Liege.

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