Desperate rescue launched by Scottish islanders to save pod of '15 whales' stranded on shore

An operation is under way to save a mass stranding of pilot whales on the Isle of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides.

Locals rushed to the bay at Lochboisdale in a desperate bid to save around 15 animals around 10am on Friday morning.

David Steele, a sightseeing and boat trip operator who owns Uist Sea Tours, arrived on the scene with his boat and was helped by three men from a nearby fish farm as well as “20-30” locals on the shore.

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Mr Steele said of the 15 whales they encountered they managed to save eight.

A pod of around 15 whales in the bay of LochboisdaleA pod of around 15 whales in the bay of Lochboisdale
A pod of around 15 whales in the bay of Lochboisdale

He said: “I heard they were stranded there in the morning so I went out to assess if we could do something and get them off shore.

“We manage to get eight off the shore but there were still another seven we couldn't save”.

Mr Steele revealed five of the remaining seven had sadly died and the remaining two – a mother and a calf – proved impossible to save due to their position in the bay.

The mother and calf are believed to be still there.

The 36-year-old said the whole incident was “really sad”, but was heartened by the whales he and the other residents of South Uist had been able to save.

“The positive is we saved eight – we've given eight of them the best chance now.”

Rescue continues

Professional rescue teams from British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) are now en-route.

In a post on Facebook BDMLR wrote: “This is a very difficult situation for us as we have no volunteers on the island and it is still effectively locked down, as they have had no Covid-19 cases there.

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“We are working hard with contacts on the island to help the animals as best as we can, some of which have since been refloated successfully, but some remain stranded at the moment.

“We have been given permission to send a small team and equipment across from a neighbouring island in hope that we may still be able to assist.”

British Divers Marine Life Rescue has said they will post another update later as this incident progresses.

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