Whales move into deeper water

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The Independent Online

A pod of pilot whales at risk of beaching themselves in shallow waters off the Western Isles have "calmed down" overnight, rescuers said today.

The group of around 60 whales have been in water of the coast of South Uist, near Loch Carnan since Thursday.

Some of the group have injuries to their heads - thought to have been sustained in the stranding.

Last night the whales made their way into deeper water at the centre of the loch, but have not yet returned to the sea.

Inflatable pontoons are on standby to help float any beached or stranded whales if needed.

But rescuers who stayed at the side of the water to keep watch on the whales said they had now calmed down.

It is hoped the whales will recover their ability to navigate and head back out to sea.

Dave Jarvis, from British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), said: "The animals are still in deeper water in the middle of the loch, although the danger to the mammals still remains.

"We hope it won't be necessary to move them. They seem to be doing fine at the moment.

"They seem to be a lot calmer and are not as noisy as yesterday.

"The volunteer rescue team will remain on station until the situation is resolved."

Pilot whales normally prefer deep water but come inshore in search of squid, which is their main food source.

Last week a pilot whale died on Sunday morning after getting stuck in the Sullom Voe in Shetland.

An autopsy was held on the animal to try and found out more about the species, and why it died.

And at the end of October last year, a pod of pilot whales were in danger of becoming stranded in the same sea loch.

After being monitored closely by the coastguard, BDMLR and the Scottish SPCA, they moved safely back to sea.

But less than a week later a pod of 33 whales - believed to be the same group - were discovered dead on a beach in Co Donegal.