London whale headed back to sea but rescue workers pessimistic

The &to=http://english.pravda.ru/culture/2001/06/03/6770.html' target=_blank>River Thames whale was headed back to sea Saturday swaddled in blankets on a rusting salvage barge, but faced a race against time to reach deep waters as rescue workers confirmed it was in rapidly deteriorating health.

The northern bottlenose was hoisted out of the river and onto the vessel to be sped toward the ocean after it captivated thousands with an unprecedented two-day foray through London, swimming past the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.

The ailing mammal was suffering the effects of being out of water, rescue crews said, while marine experts insisted it had to reach deeper waters to give it any chance of survival.

"The situation is perilous and the crews on the boat are pessimistic about the whale's chances of survival, these kind of animals are very delicate and very sensitive to stress," said Tony Woodley, a spokesman for British Divers Marine Life Rescue.