Thursday, 12 January 2012

Sad end for whale stranded on county beach

A 12ft-long pilot whale which had become stranded on a county beach died on Monday after attempts to help it back out to sea failed.

It is not known how long the female whale had been on Tyninghame Beach before being spotted between 9.30am and 10am by a member of the public, who then informed British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) and the Scottish SPCA.

Animal medics, as well as members of East Lothian's countryside ranger service, arrived shortly afterwards and kept the mammal stable in shallow water until Jo Hedley, Edinburgh area co-ordinator for BDMLR, arrived at about 1pm to assess her.

However, such was the animal's condition that it was decided to put her to sleep at about 2.30pm.

Said Ms Hedley: "The team was trying to keep her stable and comfortable and they had done a very good job of that, prior to me coming to assess her. I was concerned about her because she wasn't in a good body condition and she kept falling on her side.

"We didn't think she was viable for refloating.

"We tried to stabilise her on pontoons but she was unable to maintain her balance even then, so it was decided to euthanize her.

"It's sad, but at least we could help her and it was the kindest thing for her."

The whale's body was removed for a post-mortem examination

Added Ms Hedley: "There were no major injuries but we are waiting for the post-mortem results to find out why she was stranded.

"There normally is an underlying reason and that's why we prefer to have a post-mortem, so that we can learn from it."

Pilot whales are regular visitors to the Forth estuary but incidents of the animals becoming stranded are relatively rare.


Yet it is the second incident involving a large mammal to happen on the county coast in three months.

In November, Dunbar's RNLI lifeboat crew helped a BDMLR team free a 40ft-long humpback whale after it became entangled in fishing nets one-and-a-half miles east of the town. That incident had a happy ending when the animal was freed, suffering only some non-life-threatening wounds to its body.

The most significant county whale stranding incident happened in May 1950 when 147 pilot whales beached and died at Thorntonloch Bay near Dunbar.

1 comment:

  1. I've written a book on the stranding of the whales at Thorntonloch in May 1950 and it will be published in the next 2-3 months. I interviewed over 30 people who went to see the whales.


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