THE DETERMINED efforts of the Flint RNLI team has been showcased on a BBC series - as they tried in vain to save the life of a whale stranded on a north Wales estuary.

The crew's unusual mission - which took place in June 2020 - was recently re-told on series eight, episode three of 'Saving Lives at Sea'.

Flint volunteer lifeboat crew was tasked by UK Coastguard with assisting British Divers Marine Life Rescue and Flint and Rhyl Coastguard Teams with a stranded Fin Whale in the Dee Estuary.

The team mobilised and aided by taking equipment and personnel to the location of the whale.

RNLI volunteers worked with local fishermen to secure the area on the day and Flint lifeboat remained on scene for a number of hours with crew members assisting marine medics in keeping the whale wet and comfortable until it was able to float off the bank on the high tide.

The Saving Lives at Sea episode re-called the unusual incident, as well as the admirable efforts of volunteers on the day.


The RNLI crew of production supervisor Nathan, lifeboat operations manager Alan, photographer Gavin, and steelworker Chris, carried buckets of water from the sea to pour over the whale in an attempt to keep it cool and help save its life.

However, the 40ft whale - the second largest in the world - sadly later died, from what was believed to be lung damage.

Speaking on the BBC series, Nathan said: "Initially it was quite hard to understand exactly what we were tasked to.

"We've been out to live animals before, from livestock to a dolphin, we've never been out to the second-largest whale in the world. We haven't exactly got a standard operating procedure for that."

Chris added: "It was sad seeing this amazing animal was lying on this bank. It was great to see the number of people that were there, trying to make sure that this animal had the best chance of survival.

"It is not normal for the RNLI to come away from a job knowing that there was still a life there to be saved. You simply don't just turn around and say 'we'll come back tomorrow' but in this situation, that was the case."

"We were gutted, we would have loved for this shout to have a happy ending and the whale had survived."

The episode also gave a bit of background into the Flint RNLI's history, having formed in 1950.

It also shone a spotlight on lifeboat operations manager Alan Forrester, one of its longest-serving members having been a volunteer for over 50 years.

He joined the team at 16 years old and is still there now at the age of 72.