There was no sign today of the humpback whale that was caught up in lobster ropes in Vidlin Voe yesterday.
Animal welfare representatives were on the scene early this morning but the mammal had disappeared, presumably either having swum away towing the ropes, buoys and creels in which it became entangled, or sunk.
The whale, estimated to be over 30 feet long, was first spotted early yesterday morning by crewmen on the Whalsay ferry, with its tail caught in the lobster gear. Bad weather prevented an immediate rescue operation but later in the day small boats managed to get fairly close to the stranded beast.
Those on the scene included representatives from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Scottish SPCA, who were trying to work out how the whale could be released.
Experts from the United States said the whale should be able to survive for two or three weeks but when a number of people visited the area this morning there was no signs of activity.
SNH officer Jonathan Swale said this afternoon: “They have gone out to have one last look but there has been no sign of anything. Either it has left the area or sunk. We can’t tell which at present.” The search was later called off.
Meanwhile, it emerged today that two West Side fishermen encountered a similar situation earlier this year, when they managed to cut a 25-foot whale free from their gear. Experts have warned against taking such action, however, due to the obvious dangers with the mammal thrashing around in the water.