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16 pilot whales die in Scottish cove

St Andrews, Sep 3 (): A total of sixteen pilot whales, including four calves, have died after being stranded on the east coast of Fife in Scotland as rescuers fought a desperate battle to save others.

Earlier, on Sunday shortly after 7 a.m, the pod of 26 was discovered in a cove at the base of steep cliffs in Pittenweem, near St Andrews.

Sixteen pilot whales died and the other ten pilot whales were refloated at high tide at 4.30 p.m. after being kept alive by vets from British Divers and Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR). Coastguard teams from St Andrews and Leven, Anstruther lifeboat, and Fife Police assisted with the incident.

The incident attracted a large number of passers-by to the scene, provoking the coastguard to urge the public to stay away to allow rescue teams to carry out their duties.

The BDMLR said they were “hopeful” for those whales still in the water and would be monitoring them for the next 24 hours. Scottish co-ordinator of the BDMLR, Ali Jack said that it had been a fantastic effort made by about hundreds of people. They managed to herd the pilot whales back out to sea using their pontoon. He said two whales came back but they had got them out again.

He hopes all the 10 will survive, but he says the chances are 50-50, as it is up to the animals now. The people in the spot certainly could not have done more – they were magnificent, he appreciated.

A further 24 pilot whales, assumed to be from the same pod, were seen in shallow waters about three miles away at Cellardyke. They were being closely observed amid fears they might also beach.

In July last year some 25 out of 70 pilot whales that got stranded in the Kyle of Durness in Sutherland died in what is believed to be Scotland’s largest ever beaching of pilot whales. In November 2010, 35 whales were found dead on a beach in County Donegal in Ireland.

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