South Uist whales 'now safe' at sea

Whales The 24-strong pod of whales appear to have left the bay at Loch Carnan

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Animal rescuers believe a pod of whales which were in danger of becoming stranded in a sea loch off the coast of South Uist are now safely at sea.

The Scottish SPCA and British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) had been monitoring the whales since they were spotted at Loch Carnan on Wednesday.

The coastguard reported no sign of the 24-strong pod on Saturday morning.

There were concerns the whales were in distress but experts said the behaviour was typical of adults protecting young.

Scottish SPCA senior inspector Andy Brown said: "The coastguard has been out this morning and there was no sign of the whales, which is very good news.

"There was a real fear of mass strandings and, while there is no guarantee they won't return, we are hopeful the whales are now safe at sea and will stay there."

Mr Brown said Project Jonah, a New Zealand-based rescue organisation, had been sent footage of the whales and experts there said the whales behaviour suggested they were protecting their young.

"It may be that the juveniles in the pod were sick or too young for the rough seas and the adults kept them close to the shore for safety," he added.

He thanked the coastguard and the local fish farm for their help.

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