Marine rescue experts fear pilot whales which stranded on a Fife beach have perished.
A pod was first spotted stranding near Culross on Tuesday before making their way into deeper waters.
But three of the mammals, said to be two males and one female, were found beached a few miles down the coast near Torryburn on Wednesday afternoon.
Workers from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) raced to the scene where they began coordinating a rescue.
They managed to refloat one of the animals, and the other two managed to swim free when the tide came back in.
Kinghorn Coastguard, who were called to assist the rescue at 3.21pm, reported on social media that the whales had died.
***CALLOUT *** #51 15:21 05/12.Paged by Aberdeen coastguard operations centre to a report of a number of pilot whales…
BDMLR region coordinator Colin McFadyen said he could not confirm that the whales had died.
However, he said the outlook was grim.
Once whales are beached, the stress on their bodies sets off a chain of events that often leads to death.
“All three whales were in the water, but weren’t right. They were stuck on their sides and they weren’t swimming freely,” said Mr McFadyen.
The whales have not been spotted since about 12.20am on Thursday.
Anyone who sees the whales in the estuary is asked to keep a respectful distance and contact BDMLR on 01825 765546.
Should any of the animals be found dead, the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme should be contacted on 01463 243030.
As marine rescue teams worked in hazardous conditions, efforts were aided by coastguard colleagues from South Queensferry, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and members from the Scottish Ambulance Service.