Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Would-be whale saviours urged to let nature take its course

A group of locals go to the rescue of whales after they were spotted on the strand at Falcarragh, Co Donegal
A group of locals go to the rescue of whales after they were spotted on the strand at Falcarragh, Co Donegal
A group of locals go to the rescue of whales after they were spotted on the strand at Falcarragh, Co Donegal

The deaths of a 13 whales on a Co Donegal beach was just "part of nature" and people should not try to rescue others, experts have said.

Eight of the pilot whales did return to sea on the high tide out of Falcarragh yesterday as five others perished, but they later beached again and died there last night.

Irish Coast Guard teams and members of the National Parks and Wildlife Service sealed off two beaches in Ballyness Bay, outside Falcarragh, to allow the whales to die.

Gardai turned away people who wanted to see the mammals. Well-meaning local people spent hours pouring water over the 13 pilot whales when they beached the bay in the morning.

Five died soon afterwards.

At one stage more than 100 people were involved in the rescue attempts.

However, all eight initial survivors came ashore again at Drumnatinney beach, 2km from where the other five died.

Dave Duggan, deputy regional manager for the Irish Wildlife Service, said it was his belief that the animals should be allowed to die.

Rescue attempts, he said, rarely worked and distressed the whales.

"We asked people to let nature take its course. It is very unfortunate but it is not uncommon for pilot whales to be involved in mass beaching incidents like this," he said.

"We know people mean well but attempts to refloat them are not usually successful and only cause more distress to them."

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