Attempts made to find cause behind death of pilot whale

Attempts are being made to establish what caused a pilot whale to die after it encountered difficulty off the West Side.

A representative from the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme yesterday arrived in time to carry out a necropsy on the whale at Basta Voe

The whale first came to attention on Monday of last week when the Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary was called out by Scottish Sea Farms in Vidlin. Help was needed to remove the whale from close to the salmon cages in Vidlin Voe.

The whale managed to get further out of the voe that evening. But the following day it was close to the head of the voe and was in danger of stranding. Two kayakers successfully stopped it stranding, but the Hillswick Sanctuary said one man in a motorboat, who attempted to scare it out of the voe, instead managed to scare it into the Vidlin marina.

On Wednesday 19th July, with help of Lerwick port controller Ryan Leith and Iain White in their RIBs along with three local lads James Johnson, Sam Nicolson and Paul Hunter in a rowing boat, the whale was herded out of the marina and out to the mouth of the voe.

It circled for many hours, but had left the voe by the following morning.

On Tuesday this week the same whale was escorted into Basta Voe on Yell by two white-sided dolphins. Local mussel farmers are said to have herded them all out of the voe, but the whale came back in and was circling very close to the head of the voe on Wednesday.

Jan Bevington, of Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary.

Members of the wildlife sanctuary arrived at the scene in the afternoon when the whale had just beached itself and over the course of an hour the wildlife experts managed to refloat it. However, the whale was unable to swim away and stranded again as the tide ebbed.

Yesterday morning the whale was still breathing. Hillswick sanctuary members went to Basta Voe again to try and see what could be done. Attempts were made to find someone who could euthanise the creature. However before anyone could arrive to do that, the whale died at 2pm.

Jan Bevington, from the Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary, said: “We were very sad to see the whale we rescued from Vidlin Voe back circling close to shore in Basta Voe this week. When it stranded we decided we should give it another chance as it appeared to be strong enough, and may have just been confused in the shallows.

“However when we got it into deep enough water to swim and it showed no sign of wanting to leave the voe, we decided to leave it and stayed with it while it died. We’re looking forward to the results of the necropsy to determine the cause of death.”


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