Minke whale on Tyrella beach, County Down, back at sea

image captionMinke whales can be up to 10m long

Staff from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency have managed to refloat a minke whale which was stranded on a beach in County Down.

Four staff from the Quoile Countryside Centre managed to encourage the mammal back to sea from Tyrella Beach at the second attempt.

Colm Reavey from the centre said he and other members of staff would continue to observe the shoreline this evening.

He said there was a possibility the whale would return to the beach.

He added: "It was quite heavy work - it is about three tonne in weight.

"There was no way we were going to be able to move it on our own but the incoming tide gave ballast underneath.

"We were able to maneouvre it but essentially it move out off its own steam."

Minke whales are not uncommon around the coast of Ireland.

In 2006, a young minke stranded in Larne Lough was put down by vets after becoming tired and developing an infection.

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