Experts keep close watch on whales

EXPERTS are continuing to monitor a group of pilot whales which are believed to be in danger of becoming stranded off South Uist.

The 24-strong pod was first spotted on Wednesday evening and a major operation was mounted yesterday by the Scottish SPCA and British Divers Marine Life Rescue.

A watching brief continued yesterday and the whales were observed swimming freely in the bay at Loch Carnan, but the threat of them becoming stranded remains a possibility.

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Andy Brown, a Scottish SPCA senior inspector, said: "After treacherous weather conditions overnight, we are relieved to report that, although the pod of whales are still in the bay, they are swimming freely and have not yet stranded.

"There are several juveniles in this group and they all seem to be quite happy at the moment," he added.

"We are privileged to see these animals up close, but we are also very aware that the threat of stranding remains, which would, of course, be disastrous."

The operation also involves coastguards and local volunteers, while events are being relayed to members of Project Jonah, the New Zealand-based marine mammal rescue organisation which has expertise and experience in mass whale strandings.