Rescuers fail to save whale stranded on Fife beach

A whale beached on the Fife coast had to be humanely killed after rescuers were unable to save it.

The young minke whale was discovered in the Firth of Forth, near Crombie Point, at about 8am yesterday morning just as the tide was going out.

Rescuers from British Divers Marine Rescue, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and HM Coastguard tried for hours to calm the two-tonne, 13ft-long animal as it lay on the shore.

However, after an assessment by a vet, the decision was taken to kill the whale to prevent it from further suffering.

Corinne Gordon, from British Divers Marine Life Rescue, said the team had a 12-hour window to get the whale afloat again and would have had to wait too long for the tide to come back in.

She said: “Had the tides been in, then we would have got it on to pontoons and tried to refloat it.

“But because it had been on the beach for five hours and the tide wasn’t coming in for another five hours and we only have a 12-hour window, the decision was taken early on.

“It was pretty stressed, although we did have medics with it.”

The whale was said to have been in “good condition” but with injuries on its left pectoral fin and mouth, probably caused by thrashing against rocks.

It was covered with a sheet and sprayed with water to keep it wet as rescuers decided the best course of action. Firefighters and other rescuers could be seen trying to comfort the helpless cetacean.

On Tuesday, a pilot whale became stranded north of Edinburgh and died, despite efforts to save it. And almost exactly a year ago, 17 pilot whales died in a mass beaching in the East Neuk.

She added: “Minke whales and pilot whales end up in this area because they are following their feeding pattern.”

Ms Gordon said it was not known what caused the whale to beach.