UPDATE: Sei whale stranding

UPDATE: the Sei whale has sadly been found dead after restranding on a beach a little further up the coast. Unfortunately the survival rate of large whales who have already stranded is quite low as there is usually a reason for why they have beached themselves. Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme (SMASS) will be attending to perform a necropsy on the animal and they will share their results with us to see if there was any underlying cause. A sad ending to what was a hopeful rescue.

Yesterday, Wednesday 10th November 2021, we received a callout to a stranding of a whale in North Queensferry, Scotland. A team of our trained Marine Mammal Medics were dispatched to attend to the animal. It appeared the animal was stuck in chest-deep water and was unable to free itself.

Photo credit: Linsey Neilson

On arrival, all our team could see was a long back and a tall dorsal fin with the odd breath from its blowhole. From the large dorsal, plus the fact it measured 12.8m in length, it was determined to be a Sei whale.

The fact that the whale was upright in the water certainly increased its probability of survival, but the fact that it was submerged made it much more difficult to assess. However, it appeared to be in a moderate condition and was moving excessively in attempt free itself from the sand.

It managed to turn itself to face out of the bay, and just as our medics were exiting the water to make consolidated rescue plans, the whale made a big effort to swim out to sea. Quickly, our medics made noises underwater in order to create a wall of sound to deter the whale from swimming closer to shore and persuade it to swim in the right direction.

As it swam off, the whale looped round to the left of the bay and almost restranded itself again, floundering on some rocks. Just as medics were preparing to get back into the water for further support, the whale made its way into deeper water and swam successfully off into the open sea. It was last seen headed East and swimming strongly.

We stationed our team across the coast to monitor just in case it restranded in another location, but thankfully there has been no further sighting of the whale so far.

Huge thank you to the large number of medics who responded yesterday and contributed to a successful rescue!