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Image: Peter Flood

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Large group of whales strand on Scottish coastline

Poor weather hampered attempts by rescuers to save a large group of pilot whales that have stranded on the shore at Staffin on Skye earlier this week.

21 pilot whales got into difficulty in the remote location on Monday evening. Three died, including a mother who had to be euthanised after her calf died, but the rescue team managed to refloat 18 other whales at about 04:00 on Tuesday morning. 

Later on Tuesday, some of the remaining whales restranded on Staffin Island itself. Sadly, four more died while rescuers were unable to save two others. However, the remaining whales were eventually refloated and pushed back into open water on the next high tide. The surviving whales are now thought to have left the area.

Pilot whales often strand in large groups. They live in very tight social groups and usually when they strand it appears that either a lead individual has made a navigational mistake, or one individual has become sick or wounded and led the rest of its pod onto the shore.