Highlands & Islands

Whales in mass stranding at Staffin on Skye

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Media captionEfforts are continuing to rescue a large group of pilot whales that have stranded themselves at Staffin on Skye

Rescuers have gone to the aid of 21 long-finned pilot whales which stranded on the shore at Staffin on Skye.

British Divers Marine Life Rescue said 18 of the animals were floated back out to sea at about 04:00 on Tuesday. Two more were later floated.

However, several of the whales then stranded on the shores of nearby Staffin Island.

It was understood that eight of the whales have died and nine remain stranded on the small island.

The coastguard said it could be high tide at 19:00 before those animals could be pushed back into open water.

It was believed the stranding was caused by a female whale getting into difficulty while calving. The calf died.

Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust raised the alarm after seeing whales in distress on Monday afternoon.

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Image caption The effort to rescue the whales started in the early hours of Tuesday
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Image caption The alarm was raised on Monday afternoon after several whales were seen in distress
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Image caption The whales were thought to have stranded after a pregnant female got into difficulty
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Image caption Some of the whales have gone on to beach themselves on a nearby island
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Image caption Several organisations have gone to the aid of the animals
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Image copyright Crown copyright

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said the Scottish government was offering assistance to the effort to save the whales.

He said: "I am very concerned to hear about this stranding of pilot whales on Skye.

"Marine Scotland and British Divers Marine Life Rescue are currently working hard to alleviate the situation.

"We have a patrol vessel and other staff on-site and I am being kept informed of the situation.

"Sadly it appears that some of the whales have already died and the situation is becoming increasingly difficult as the outgoing tide is leaving the stranded animals out of the water."

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Image caption BDMLR, Marine Scotland and coastguard personnel have been involved in the rescue effort
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Image caption The whales first got into difficulty at Staffin
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Image caption Richard Lochhead described the stranding as "concerning"
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Image caption Several of the animals have died

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