Ex­pert de­scribes ‘truly dif­fi­cult and heartbreaking’ case of whale death

Work on­go­ing to dis­cover why four pilot whales died

The Courier & Advertiser (Fife Edition) - - NEWS - CRAIG SMITH Ex­perts be­side a beached pilot whale at Tor­ry­burn this week. Pic­ture: Saltire News and Sport. cpee­[email protected]­courier.co.uk

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.

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