NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Pregnant whale found tangled in 'ghost gear' in Orkney

Minke whale Image copyright SMASS Orkney
Image caption The minke whale was pregnant with a female calf

A pregnant whale has been found dead and tangled in a fishing net in Orkney.

Scientists said the marine pollution, known as "ghost gear", was jammed in the animal's baleen, the filter-feeder system inside its mouth.

The experts from the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme (Smass) said the net would have "hugely impaired" the minke whale's feeding and movement.

The animal, which was pregnant with a female calf, was found on the island of Sanday.

Orkney-based volunteers of Smass, which is part of Scotland's Rural College, examined the whale and its dead calf.

Last Monday, a fisherman alerted rescuers to a humpback whale entangled in his fishing ropes in Westray in Orkney.

He helped British Divers Marine Life Rescue volunteers from Glasgow, Dundee, Ullapool and Moray in successfully freeing the animal.

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