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Dozens of pilot whales die after mass stranding in Scotland beach

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Dozens of pilot whales can be seen washed ashore after mass stranding on Traigh Mhor beach on Scotland’s Isle of Lewis as rescuers are busy in efforts to ensure the survival of the marine creatures on July 16, 2023. — Twitter/@AngusMacNeilSNP

As many as 40 pilot whales have died as they were stranded on Traigh Mhor beach on Scotland’s Isle of Lewis early Sunday, as a British marine charity said that the cause of the mass stranding remains unknown so far.

According to British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), only 10 survived.

Police have urged people to refrain from going to the area to provide stranded whales “the best chance of survival”.

A spokeswoman for the BDMLR said that “they were alerted to the mass stranding by police”.

She said: “Our local marine mammal medics are currently administering first aid to the whales, and medics from surrounding areas are preparing their kit and organising transport to the island. The reason for the whales stranding is currently unknown.”

“Reports so far suggest there are around 55 animals, however the latest update from the scene indicates that only 10 are alive,” she added.

“The coastguard and Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme have also been tasked to attend.”

Dozens of pilot whales can be seen washed ashore after mass stranding on Traigh Mhor beach on Scotland’s Isle of Lewis on July 16, 2023. — Twitter/@AngusMacNeilSNP
Dozens of pilot whales can be seen washed ashore after mass stranding on Traigh Mhor beach on Scotland’s Isle of Lewis on July 16, 2023. — Twitter/@AngusMacNeilSNP

While explaining possible reasons for their stranding, she stated: “Pilot whales are notorious for their strong social bonds, so often when one whale gets into difficulty and strands, the rest follow leading to more of them stranding.”

Pilot whales are small in size and are classified as part of the dolphin family.

Police Scotland said: “Officers are currently assisting partners with a number of stranded pilot whales on the beach at Tolsta, Stornoway. To allow the whales the best chance of survival, please avoid the area.”

Local MP Angus Brendan MacNeil also uploaded images of the stranded whales Sunday on Twitter, while writing: “Reckoned to be about 55 pilot whales stranded on Traigh Mhor at North Tolsta in the Isle of Lewis this morning.”

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said it had also responded to the incident.

The BDMLR, founded in 1988, trains volunteer marine mammal medics and has 20 whale rescue pontoons at strategic locations across the UK to help stranded whales and dolphins.

Between 2011 and 2015 it responded to a series of mass strandings of pilot whales across Scotland.

The biggest involved a pod of more than 70 animals.



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