LONDON — More than 50 pilot whales have died in Scotland after being stranded on a beach on the Isle of Lewis — the largest mass stranding in the country in decades.
Authorities were alerted to the incident on Sunday morning at around 0600 GMT and subsequent attempts to refloat more than a dozen living whales were unsuccessful.
Rescuers later decided to euthanize the remaining stranded whales on welfare grounds. In total 55 whales died and one is believed to have survived.
The charity British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) said one female was found with a vaginal prolapse and it suspected that the whole pod was stranded after one whale suffered birthing complications.
“Pilot whales are notorious for their strong social bonds, so often when one whale gets into difficulty and strands, the rest follow,” BDMLR said.
The Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme (SMASS) said it would begin examining the bodies of the mammals to determine the cause of the stranding.
“Over the next several days we will be conducting sampling and necropsies of the pilot whales to gather as much data as possible to better understand the health of these animals and why they may have stranded,” SMASS said in a statement on Instagram. —Reuters