Humpback whale

On 12 December 2012, a humpback whale, still living, stranded on the Dutch desert island Noorderhaaks, also known as Razende Bol.

A few days later, a dead sperm whale stranded on the same island, a few hundred meter away.

How did this story which attracted much attention, including internationally, develop?

This video is called The future for humpback whales – BBC Planet Earth.

Humpback whale beaches

12 December 2012.

Twitter messages from Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands say that today a humpback whale has beached.

This happened on the Razende Bol, a desert island close to the bigger Texel.

People try to save this whale. It is still partially underwater; which is a good sign for survival.

UPDATE: the whale is about 12 meter long. The tide is rising, which may help the whale.

Related articles

Now, my next whale diary entry; also from 12 December.

This is a video about the humpback whale, which beached today near Texel island in the Netherlands.

Humpback whale, first attempts to save it

This video is about a Texel lifeboat trying to help the whale.

The whale is still stranded on the Noorderhaaks sandbank. Because it is dark, people cannot get it swimming again now. They will try to help the whale tomorrow morning.

That “tomorrow” was 13 December. Then, I wrote this:

This is a video of the stranded whale on the Noorderhaaks, filmed by a kite surfer.

The humpback whale, beached yesterday on Noorderhaaks desert island near Texel, the Netherlands, is still alive.

But it is still on a sandbar and its condition is not good.

‘Standing near the whale, I cried, because the whale cried too’, someone who tried to save the whale said.

Photos are here.

Also on 13 December:

The red dot marks where the humpback whale beached

My previous update said that the condition of the humpback whale, stranded in the Netherlands, was bad. People thought the animal would probably not survive. It cried, and an Ecomare museum employee standing next to it, cried as well.

However, as the tide rose today, the whale seemed to get livelier.

Ecomare museum on Texel and four lifeboats are digging a fairway and using nets at the moment to enable the whale to swim away.

This happens in darkness, in cold weather.

The humpback whale is nicknamed Johannes (John in English).

I hope he will swim again. But I can’t be sure.

UPDATE: a coast guard helicopter is at the scene, for lighting, so the rescuers will be able to see what they are doing.

Later on 13 December:

Humpback whale, new attempt to save it

This is a Dutch TV video on the stranded humpback whale.

As told in my earlier post, tonight four lifeboats and a helicopter tried to get the beached humpback whale to swim again.

This video is about the attempt to save the beached humpback whale on Noorderhaaks island near Texel, the Netherlands, in the evening of 13 December.

The video shows two lifeboats trying to move the whale to deeper water, after a fairway had been dug.

However, the helicopter’s electricity finished. And a net did not work.

Tomorrow morning, 7am local time, people will again go to Noorderhaaks island to see how the whale is then.

Then, 14 December:

This video is about the unsuccessful attempt yesterday evening to free the stranded humpback whale.

This video is about the yesterday evening attempt as well. The yellow silhouettes are the lifeboat people.

This morning, the humpback whale is still alive. But bad weather makes rescue attempts impossible now.

Photo of the whale, called Johannes, crying: here.

Later, also on 14 December:

This video is called Humpback whale baby calf breathing-Diving With Whales- BBC Wildlife.

A Twitter message by Ecomare museum on Texel island, the Netherlands says tomorrow springtide is expected.

The south wind and the high tide might help the beached humpback whale Johannes to swim again.

In case that the whale would die, veterinarians would investigate what was the cause of its beaching and death.

Then, it would go to the natural history museum Naturalis in Leiden.

Photo of the whale crying: here.

The next day, 15 December:

The beached humpback whale

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel island, the Netherlands:


Yesterday, the Department of Economic Affairs which includes agriculture instructed two veterinarians to go and look at the humpback whale. When they found that the animal was suffering unbearably, the Ministry commissioned them to get the animal to sleep with a painkiller. They have done that on site. Today Mayor Giskes and an expert of Economic Affairs will look at the humpback. The expert will report to the Ministry how things are now with the animal.

Yesterday, there were messages on the Internet that the doctors had supposedly killed the whale.

It looks like that is not true. Ecomare said that the only way one can euthanize a big whale is with explosives; and they did not want that.

Sperm whale beaches

UPDATE: Ecomare says that maybe now an already dead sperm whale has beached on the same island. This could not be verified yet.

Later on 15 December:

Noorderhaaks beached sperm whale today, photo René Pop

After the earlier beaching of a still living humpback whale on Noorderhaaks desert island near Texel island in the Netherlands, today another whale stranded on Noorderhaaks.

It is a male sperm whale. It is about 13 meter long. It is dead.

This is a video about the sperm whale, beached today on Noorderhaaks island, north of the humpback whale which had beached earlier.

This video is also about the dead sperm whale.

As for the humpback, it is still alive, but said to be in a very bad condition. The Dutch government has decided to euthanize the animal with a painkiller tonight.

Ecomare museum which tried to save the whale, getting it swimming again, says this is the government’s decision, not theirs and they are not present near the humpback now. Sea Shepherd protests against the government decision. They say that with painkillers, one cannot euthanize a big whale.

Then, 16 December; a sad day:

Humpback whale dies

The beached humpback whale, photo ANP

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Sunday, December 16, 2012, 09:30

The humpback whale which beached this Wednesday on a sandbank in the Wadden Sea is dead. Two employees of the seal rehabilitation center in Pieterburen have reported this.

The people of Lenie ‘t Hart [director of the seal rehabilitation center] had gone to the humpback trying to still save it. They did so despite a police ban area around the whale.

Last Friday the whale Johannes got a strong sedative after experts had stated that the animal could not survive anymore. Animal activists think that the government gave up on the animal much too soon.

See also here. And here. And here.

This reminds me of years ago, when I was in the Antarctic. I saw a humpback whale jumping out of the sea.

RIP, Johannes! And thanks to all people of Ecomare museum, coast guard, lifeboats and others who tried to save you!

No thanks it all, it seems, to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his government.

Ecomare museum on the death of the humpback whale: here.

I hope that people will learn lessons from this about how big whales can be saved, even in difficult circumstances.

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