Whale lost in Buenos Aires marina heads towards sea

A stranded humpback whale surfaces at the docks of Puerto Madero neighbourhood in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Aug 3, 2015.
A stranded humpback whale surfaces at the docks of Puerto Madero neighbourhood in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Aug 3, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

BUENOS AIRES (AFP) - A disoriented whale that surprised onlookers by surfacing in the middle of a bustling marina in Buenos Aires is slowly finding its way back towards the sea, officials said Tuesday.

The small minke whale turned up Monday amid the yachts docked in Puerto Madero, the Argentine capital's upscale waterfront neighborhood. It had apparently strayed off course, leaving the Atlantic Ocean and swimming up the River Plate estuary into a canal that serves the marina.

As hundreds of curious passersby gathered to watch the whale surface and spout water just off the docks, navy officials tried to lead the animal out of fresh water and back to the sea.

They lost sight of the whale early Tuesday morning, but then spotted it again near the entrance to the river, officials said.

"The whale is currently at the exit of the Buenos Aires port. We don't know its health status, but it's in the right area to swim into the access canal toward the river," police spokesman Walter Melo told AFP.

Officials have been working with marine biologists to help the eight- to nine-metre whale find its way to the sea.

But some experts warned the outlook was grim.

"From the moment it entered the River Plate it had problems because these are salt-water animals," said the head of the Whale Conservation Institute of Argentina, Diego Taboada.

"There's no way to save it. It will beach at some point and turn up dead."