25 pilot whales die after mass stranding

Posted: 07/24/2011 in all marine news

Cordelia O’Neill –

More than two dozen whales have died after a mass stranding in an estuary of a sea loch in the Scottish Highlands.

The bodies of 25 whales from a pod of 70 were found yesterday morning after they were stranded at low tide on Friday at the Kyle of Durness in the most north-westerly corner of Scotland.

Rescuers have managed to return 44 pilot whales to open water.

Attempts to refloat the whales began on Friday night and continued into the early hours of yesterday morning.

British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) medics, the coastguard and the navy managed to rotate some of the whales that were upside down to prevent them from drowning when the tide came in.

The BDMLR said many of the whales had become stranded on their sides, on top of each other and upside down and were inhaling sand.

Vets from as far away as Newcastle travelled to the remote loch and nine sets of pontoons were delivered to the site on Friday night, but they were not used as the estuary flooded too quickly.

Divers from a Royal Navy bomb disposal squad were in the area and took part in the rescue, watched by dozens of people from the shore. The members of the Northern Diving Group formed a human chain to herd the whales into deeper water.

The water receded yesterday morning, and the bodies were discovered onshore. It is believed they died the night before but were not discovered until first light.

Three whales were found alive, but had to be euthanased by vets as they were too weak to be refloated.

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