Marine experts rush to prevent mass stranding of pilot whales in UK
21 May 2011
Last night, marine experts in the UK were monitoring a pod of pilot whales, in a bid to prevent them getting stranded. Experts feared for their safety, as the pod of around 100 pilot whales, many with injuries to their heads, attempted to come ashore in shallow water off the coast of South Uist in Loch Carnan. Scientists think they may have been stranded before and the whales were trying to help the injured stay on the surface.
Volunteers from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) attempted to reach the mammals and representatives from the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) were also on the scene. By night, hopes lifted as rescuers said the whales were not being in any imminent danger of stranding on the Western Isles.
Dave Jarvis, spokesman for BDMLR, which had 20 personnel on site trying to prevent the whales from stranding on the Loch's rocky shoreline, said the good news was that the animals had moved out into deeper water and appeared to be breaking up into two smaller groups, which suggested that immediate danger was past.
He added that the whales would be watched for what they did next and he believed around 20 per cent had head injuries which suggested they may have stranded before.
The natural habitat of whales is deeper waters and although marine experts are not sure of the reason for their being so close to shore, killer whales to the west of the Outer Isles and bad weather are said to be possible reasons for their presence in shallow waters.
A similar incident was reported in October last year, when 35 pilot whales could have stranded and though they did return to sea, they were later found dead having stranded on the Irish coast.
According to Calum Watt, senior inspector with the SSPCA who was among those monitoring the movements of the whales yesterday, it was incredible that a second pod had arrived in the same area. He added there was no reason they knew for their coming to the same area.