A team from the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme have carried out a post mortem on a female orca that was found stranded on a beach on the island of Linga in the Shetland Islands last week.
Such events are unusual so it provided a rare opportunity to find out more about the species. The body was moved to Shetland where the team carried out their work yesterday. Initial results indicate that the orca as a 5.20 metre female who had recently been pregnant. She was found to have a prolapsed uterus and most likely lost her calf. While she was probably alive when she stranded, it was also discovered that she was suffering from an infection throughout her abdomen, stomach, kidney, liver and intestines. Further tests will now be carried out on samples taken to find out more about her general health and other important facts such as pollution levels in her body.
While little is known about the orcas that visit Scotland, one group was identified last year as having been seen in Iceland just a few weeks before. There is also one small population of orcas, consisting of just 8 surviving members, known to reside off the west coast of the British Isles.