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Nature / Police warn folk about getting close to sperm whale

The sperm whale near Nesbister at the end of March Photo: Steve Groom

POLICE are reminding people not to enter the water to catch a glimpse of the sperm whale which is still inshore at Whiteness Voe.

It follows reports of people in a small boat getting close to the 50-tonne whale on Wednesday.

Local police said: “Please do not enter the water to get a close sighting of this whale.

“There are safe viewing spots from the shore which will be safer for both public and the whale.”

Wildlife crime liaison officer constable Daniel Sutherland said: “This whale is at a clear risk of disturbance and stranding after finding itself in a very restrictive and shallow area of Whiteness.”

The coastguard was also tasked to carry out an assessment of the area on grounds of public safety.

A graphic highlighting rules around safe distances from whales and dolphins can be seen below. Further information can be found here.

Meanwhile NatureScot’s Karen Hall said today (Thursday) that the 45-foot sperm whale is still in the north area of Whiteness Voe.

“It appears to be swimming better and still breathing at a normal rate albeit it is still in a constrained area,” she said.

“The whale did strand near the Nesbister Bod on Tuesday afternoon but managed to free itself. You may see superficial scrapes on its dorsal fin and fluke that came from that.

“Yesterday evening, whilst in the shallows, we think it briefly beached again, and again was able to free itself. Fortunately as both these instances were very short and the whale remained supported by water we are hopefully it has not sustained any internal injuries from these semi strandings.”

It is not clear why it has come inshore and there are a number of theories, including the recent earthquake and underwater noise – or simply the whale reaching the end of its life.

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But due to its size and the location, there are no options available to move it out of the voe.

“As frustrating as it is not to do something, anything we did do could end up making matters worse or injuring the animal,” Hall said.

“We are hoping, like everyone else, that it somehow finds its way back out to sea.”

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