Experts bid to save surviving whales after mass stranding on Scottish island

Experts are striving to save 12 pilot whales after 77 stranded on Orkney – almost a year after another mass stranding in Scotland.

British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) received a report of a mass stranding of up to 100 long-finned pilot whales on Sanday, Orkney, just before 11am on Thursday.

Of the 77 whales which were on the beach, only 12 have survived with medics mobilised from around the islands and further afield in Scotland in a bid to save them.

A similar incident occurred on July 16 2023 on the Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, when 55 pilot whales were stranded, with only one surviving.

Molly Brown, who works for BDMLR, said although the cause of the stranding was unknown, the whales are sociable and may have followed one of the group who became stranded.

Ms Brown said: “We have 77 animals stranded and only 12 are alive at the moment, the tide is on its way in.

“The whales are hopefully going to be refloated on the tide.

“We are just getting all our medics there at the moment, we have got medics heading from elsewhere on Orkney and other areas of Scotland.

“We will do our best to save the remaining live ones.

“Pilot whales are incredibly sociable and so its possible that one of them stranded and the rest followed.

“It’s the largest one in a long time. We did have a mass stranding of 55 around this time last year on the Isle of Lewis.

“It’s a different part of Scotland – I don’t know if it’s just coincidence. There’s a lot of disturbance.”

Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme intend to begin post-mortem investigations.