Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

16 whales die in mass stranding

Members of the emergency services attempt to refloat pilot whales after they beached near Pittenweem off the coast of Fife

Sixteen whales have died in a mass stranding off the coast of Fife.

The mammals were part of a group of 26 pilot whales stranded at Pittenweem, near St Andrews.

The remaining whales are being kept alive by vets from British Divers and Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), with help from the emergency services including Fife fire service.

The other 10 have been refloated by BDMLR volunteers, with two having turned back into the harbour and the rest waiting at the harbour entrance.

Gareth Norman, BDMLR co-ordinator for the area, said it is likely only nine of the remaining animals will survive.

Forth Coastguard was alerted to the incident shortly after 7am, with initial reports suggesting a mass stranding of dolphins.

Teams of volunteer medics from BDMLR were sent to the area, with specialist rescue pontoons being moved to the location from across Scotland, Newcastle and Cumbria.

Over 30 medics are on the scene and are being assisted by an additional 25 from other emergency service organisations including the coastguard, Fife fire service, Fife Police and the SSPCA.

A further 24 pilot whales from the same pod are in the shallows three miles along the coast at Cellardyke.

Medics are observing these animals and hoping that they will not strand as the tide is now rising, with high tide at around 4.30pm.

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