Explosives were reportedly used in Perth, Australia, to euthanize a terminally ill baby humpback whale that had been stranded for two weeks on the country's western coast.
The whale, about 30 feet long, was given a "lethal explosion" to the brain, according to local news reports.
"It's ugly but it's also a fast and one of the few ways to euthanize a whale that's stranded and in distress for too long," said Ken Balcomb, the executive director and research biologist for the Center for Whale Research since 1985. The Center, located on the Pacific Northwest's San Juan Island, is nonpolitical.
Balcomb, who has euthanized several whales, said there are essentially two ways to end the mammal's life if there is no hope of healing it and freeing it. One can either exact a controlled explosion or cut the throat.
"If a whale has been in that spot for two weeks, you have to assume that its brain is not functioning, that it's in a twilight zone, and isn't really aware of what's happening," Balcomb said.
The longer a whale is out of water the more pressure builds on the mammal's organs, he said. "These are sad things, but they happen and the public should know that there's nothing else sometimes that can be done."