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Whales discovered beached in Fife one day after rescue operation to save pod

The whales at Torryburn.
The whales at Torryburn.

Three whales have been found beached in Fife – one day after a pod came into trouble in shallow waters near a local village.

Five pilot whales were first spotted at Culross at around 11am on Tuesday.

However three mammals, said to be two males and a female, were found stranded downstream at Torryburn on Wednesday afternoon.

One of the pilot whales in the Firth of Forth near Culross on Tuesday.

British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) are at the scene coordinating a rescue with the emergency services, however efforts are being hampered by the location of the whales on mudflats.

The group’s north-east Scotland region coordinator Colin McFadyen said the animals “almost definitely” belong to the pod which came into trouble at Culross.

He added that whales appear to have encountered “difficulties in the mudflats”.

As of about 5.30pm the animals were said to be alive.

However they will need constant attention until high tide at about 1am, when – if all the animals are healthy – an attempt will be made to put them back out into the water.

BDMLR rescuers – volunteers who have travelled to the scene from Fife, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen – hope the animals can be safely put back into the Forth.

Mr McFadyen said: “It is almost certainly the pod from yesterday. We have been looking for them pretty much all day today and had been hopeful they had disappeared because they weren’t seen until early afternoon.

“At the moment, obviously it is hampered a little bit by the fact there is no longer any light.

“We certainly don’t appear to have all five. We had been hampered by the fact there was little access there because of the railway line. Network Rail have helped.

“The emergency services are there.

“The whales were (alive) last time I heard and we are working on the basis they will continue to be alive.

“Assuming there is nothing else wrong with them, we will first keep them wet and stop conditions from worsening their health.

“And then, at the incident commander vet’s decision, we’ll attempt to try and get them into the water, if they are healthy.”

On the fate of the other whales from the pod which have not been found on the beach, he added: “To be honest they could be just a little bit offshore, they could still be in the water and not managed to get themselves on the mudflats.”

A police spokesman said officers had been called to help, but that the incident is now in the hands of BDMLR volunteers, the UK Coastguard, and the fire and rescue service.

An expert from the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme (SMASS) is also said to be at the scene.

The BDMLR had attempted to ensure the safety of the sea creatures on Tuesday evening.

The pod of whales were stranded at Culross. Photo by Graham Harris Graham of Town House gallery, Culross.

All five of the whales got into trouble at Culross pier, with one stuck upside down and said to be in “distress” for half an hour.

The fire service, which sent one appliance to assist, left the scene at 6.14pm.

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