Expert describes ‘truly difficult and heartbreaking’ case of whale death
Work ongoing to discover why four pilot whales died
Post-mortem examinations on all four pilot whales which died after becoming stranded on the Fife coast this week were due to be carried out yesterday.
Marine life experts from the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme began the painstaking work of trying to find out why the mammals may have got into difficulty from Tuesday onwards, with volunteers from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) group called to try to help the stricken animals on numerous occasions at Culross, Torryburn and North Queensferry.
The pod of five whales was initially spotted in distress at Culross but, as the week wore on, two of the four washed up dead on beaches while another two had to be euthanised on welfare grounds after the ordeal took its toll on the creatures.
The fifth whale remains missing and is thought to still be in the area.
Paul Smith, from the BDMLR, admitted it had been a difficult week for all concerned and thanked everyone who had assisted in some shape or form.
“This has been one of the most protracted, logistically challenging and emotionally draining incidents that BDMLR’s medics have had to deal with in recent years,” he said.
“Many of our team have been out on all of the days for many hours in freezing cold, windy, wet and muddy conditions, trying to help the whales in incredibly difficult circumstances where the odds have constantly been against us.
“It really is a struggle to find the words that convey how truly difficult and heartbreaking this incident was for us all to deal with, both physically and emotionally.
“We would especially like to thank each and every member of our team who was involved, both on the ground and on the phones, for their dedication, determination and compassion over the last few days.
“Every single one of them is a credit to BDMLR and represented us with great professionalism in the face of the many challenges that were thrown our way.”
Nick Davison, co-ordinator of the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme, said: “Hopefully these post-mortem examinations will give us an idea of why the animals stranded and the causes of death of those that died.
“We are also looking for any reason for those which live stranded, such as infectious disease, any indications of trauma or acoustic damage in the ears,” he said. “Until we open them up, we are just guessing.”
Anyone who spots the fifth whale has been urged to report it urgently by calling the emergency hotline on 01825 765546.