British Divers Marine Life Rescue
British Divers Marine Life Rescue (photo: Steve Marsh)
British Divers Marine Rescue


2018-12-06 11:27:01

Pilot whales restrand in Fife

Following the initial mass stranding of five pilot whales and their subsequent refloat at Culross, Fife, on Tuesday 4th December, the animals remained in the area on Wednesday at nearby Newmills.  Unfortunately, at around 2pm three of the animals stranded again at around high tide in an area that was very difficult to access.

BDMLR Medics attended again along with the Coastguard, Fire and Rescue Service, Special Operations Response Team and Network Rail, who were all instrumental in gaining safe access to the animals to enable first aid and assessment to be carried out.  It became evident early on that this would be an extremely challenging situation as the whales (two males and one female) were stuck in thick mud, and efforts to get the whales upright into a more comfortable position proved difficult since they would slide straight over again as soon as they moved.

The rescue team carried out what first aid they were able to do given the circumstances they were faced with, while a veterinarian also attended the scene to assist and relayed information back to our colleagues at the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme.  With the tide not due back in until 2am in the morning, whale rescue pontoon sets from around Scotland were organised and sent down to the site in case a refloat attempt was viable later.

Hours later and in darkness, the exhausted team were still out there trying their hardest to keep the whales comfortable until the incoming tide made it too dangerous to remain.  At midnight the team had to withdraw for their own safety while the whales, all still alive, refloated again on the high tide.  Medics are currently back out on the coast this morning searching for them again, and further updates will follow as and when new information becomes available.

In the meantime we would like to express our heartfelt thanks to our volunteers, Coastguard, Fire and Rescue Service, Paramedics and Network Rail who were out on site in cold, awful conditions for many hours, and it was mentioned during the debrief afterwards that communication between all the agencies involved had been excellent in spite of the incredibly difficult scenario.

Photos courtesy James McKenzie (BDMLR)