Specialists identify whale found dead on Tiree
A KILLER whale found dead on a Tiree beach died after it became entangled in fishing gear, a post mortem exaination has revealed.
This is the first time a killer whale is known to have died this way in Scotland.
The whale has been identified as Lulu, one of only nine orcas left in Scottish waters, and one of only four females in the group.
The identity of the animal was confirmed this week by Dr Andy Foote, an orca specialist and Dr Conor Ryan of Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT).
Using photos from the trust’s catalogue the pair were able to identify Lulu from the distinctive eye and saddle patches, which are unique to each individual killer whale. Photos taken of the stranded orca by John Bowler, RSPB Scotland’s Tiree Officer were crucial to allow HWDT to identify the animal. The whale’s body was found at Crossapol Point, a rocky area between Crossapol and Soroby beaches.
This small and wellknown group is Britain and Ireland’s only known resident population of killer whales and is feared to be at risk of extinction.
Dr Conor Ryan, the trust’s sighting and stranding officer said: ‘It is particularly sad to know another of these killer whales, unique to the British and Irish Isles, has died.
‘There may be as few as eight individuals remaining in this population, which has not produced calves since studies began.’
The trust has been studying orca in the Hebrides using photo ID since 1992.
Lulu was last photographed by the charity from its specialised research yacht, Silurian, off Waternish, Isle of Skye in July 2014.
The HWDT is working to secure the future of western Scotland’s cetaceans and the Hebrides’ globally important marine environment through education, research and engagement with local communities.
For details call 01688 302620 or visit www.hwdt.org.
IDENTIFIED: Killer whale Lulu was found dead on