Rescuers free Moby for life on high seas

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Moby, the giant sperm whale, was last night thought to be heading for the safety of the open seas after a rescue operation off the Scottish coast.

Volunteers succeeded in shepherding the 40-foot mammal eastwards up the Firth of Forth and away from the dangers of the upstream shallows.

Three more sperm whales were seen in the area last night and experts said that if the sightings were confirmed, it could indicate Moby's companions were waiting for him to join them.

By a stroke of fortune, Moby had lost his way in an area close to where experts were on hand at the Deep Sea World sea life aquarium at North Queensferry, Fife.

He had first been sighted in the area on Thursday night, apparently stranded on a sandbank near the Forth rail bridge.

Drivers and animal welfare experts were alerted but the whale was able to move off the sandbank on a changing tide and was at that point thought to be clear of danger.

But yesterday he was spotted further up river and fears rose that he could swim into serious danger if he went into shallow waters.

Volunteers in boats shepherded him in the hope that the noise from the engines would persuade him to head downstream.

Keith Todd, curator of the Deep Sea World centre, said the tactic appeared to be working.

"The whale was spotted east of Grangemouth but at the moment he is making very good progress down river," he said.