A LOCAL couple braved the freezing elements on Saturday as they swam in the sea to catch a first-hand look at a “beautiful” orca which washed up dead on an island near Walls last week.
Volunteers from Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary also made the trip to the uninhabited Linga at the weekend to collect samples from the adult whale as efforts continue to determine a cause of death.
Cy Sullivan and his partner Sally Evans, who are both divers, took the plunge and swam 15 mins in the cold sea to visit the deceased orca, which was first spotted on Thursday.
Temperatures on Saturday reached negative figures but the couple, who have an interest in marine animals, made the effort to pay tribute to the whale.
“We are both really interested in the marine life around Shetland,” Sullivan said.
“It was really sad to see such a beautiful animal just laying dead on the shore. After following where they have been the past year, it was such a shame to see this.”
The couple left from Pointataing in Walls, which they said is the nearest point on the mainland to the isle of Linga.
Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary took samples of the whale for Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme, which is due to visit the isles soon to undertake a necropsy to find out how it died.
The sanctuary’s Jan and Pete Bevington confirmed that the orca, which was 5.2m in length, was a female.
They made the trip to Linga by boat, but they had to berth at the other side of Linga and walk through the snow to attend to the whale. A local mussel farmer and his family also made the trip to see the orca.