On Sunday 29 October BDMLR Medics on The Isle of Skye responded to a report of a whale in shallow waters near Dunvegan, North West Skye and were surprised to discover that the animal was a sperm whale. Sperm whales are a deep-diving species that are not typically seen in the relatively shallow waters surrounding the island so this was highly unusual. Furthermore, In the last 100 years only one other sperm whale calf has been recorded live stranding in the UK. This happened in Wales in 2019.
The animal, measuring 4.8m in length, was identified as a dependent calf. An exact age is currently unknown but it is thought to be less than two years old. The mother was not formally recorded nearby. Its dependence was one of a number of reasons why, sadly, it was not a viable case for rescuing. It was also in incredibly poor condition and had already stranded, meaning it would not have survived a refloat attempt. There is currently no humane way to euthanise an animal of that size.
Medics monitored the calf for ten days from first light to nightfall, often keeping watch overnight, until it passed away on the night of November 6, concluding a monumental ten day callout; one of the longest-running incidents that BDMLR has been involved with.
The deceased animal was removed from the scene today by the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme (SMASS) who will conduct a full post-mortem to investigate possible reasons as to why it may have come ashore.