This evening, Friday 16 August, we’ve been made aware of a sperm whale in shallow water at Shapinsay, Orkney. We have a member of our team on the island monitoring the animal, which has since stranded and is still alive.
Unfortunately the whale appears to be in poor body condition and its health compromised, which of course means the prognosis is not going to be good. There are a number of reasons why it could be in this state, including being chronically ill or even coming to the end of its natural life.
Due to its large size, there are no effective and safe methods currently available in the UK for putting it to sleep, nor would refloatation be a viable option as it is far too big to move – unless the tide takes back out again, although unfortunately it would be unlikely to survive regardless.
We would ask people to kindly keep a respectable distance from the animal to minimise any additional unnecessary stress. Our team will continue monitoring with the limited resources immediately available on the island.
We’ll update in the morning on the situation, but in the meantime we would thank everyone for their understanding and cooperation at this difficult time.
Update – 1pm Saturday 17 August
The sperm whale that was live stranded on Shapinsay last night was refloated by the tide overnight and was missing this morning. However it was briefly sighted near Kirkwall harbour during the morning and was last seen diving and heading in a Northerly direction.
Our team on the islands continue to keep an eye out for it in various locations, but would ask anyone who spots it to please report it to our hotline on 01825 765546. The local coastguard team are also aware.
We would advise local boat and shipping traffic to be aware of it being in the area and that it may potentially be vulnerable to accidental collision, as in its health compromised state its reactions and awareness of its surroundings may be impaired.
If there is any further information on the animal we will update here later. Once again we would like to thank everyone for their support and understanding with this incident.