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Nature / Whiteness sperm whale could be in trouble

Photo: Hugh Harrop/Shetland Wildlife

ENVIRONMENTALISTS in Shetland are anxiously watching the movements of a huge sperm whale that is in danger of stranding at Whiteness Voe.

Wildlife enthusiasts were delighted yesterday (Monday) when 45-foot animal could be watched and photographed from the shoreline at South Whiteness.

But on Tuesday the mammal had moved much closer to shore and is currently in no more than 10 metres of water.

Karen Hall of the local NatureScot office said there is little anyone could do should the 50-tonne animal move even further inshore.

She said that as far as anyone could say the sperm whale looked healthy and has “no obvious injuries”, adding though that sometimes these large animals would come ashore to die.

Hall said she has been out there watching the animal since before 8am and the whale had moved further inshore since then.

“We had a drone over it, it is holding its own, it is breathing, and it is behaving fairly normal, it is just in the wrong place,” she said.

Video taken on Monday by Gary Buchan

Hall described watching the animal as “one of those moments where you feel incredibly helpless”.

“It is king of a watching and waiting game at the moment, unfortunately, it is all we can do,” she said.

Should the deep water animal move even further inshore or being caught out by the ebbing tide, then there is a real danger that it could partially ground itself.

Once grounded sperm whales usually die from being squashed by their own weight.