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Originally published Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 5:52 AM

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Stranded humpback whale struggles to free itself

Rescuers say a humpback whale has stranded on a sandbank near the northern Dutch coast and is trying to free itself as the tide rises.

The Associated Press

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands —

Rescuers say a humpback whale has stranded on a sandbank near the northern Dutch coast and is trying to free itself as the tide rises.

Henriette de Waal, a spokeswoman for the Ecomare wildlife and nature center, says the whale was spotted early Wednesday stuck in a gully on a sandbank off the coast of Den Helder, 90 kilometers (55 miles) north of Amsterdam.

She says boats from the Dutch coast guard and navy are at the scene but keeping their distance as the 12-meter (40-foot) animal, which is partially submerged, struggles to get into deeper water.

It is unusual for humpback whales to strand off the Dutch coast, though De Waal says an increasing number of the marine mammals have been spotted in the North Sea in recent years.

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