| 6.1°C Dublin

Six whales die in biggest stranding ever seen here

Plea to public to stop taking selfies with one of living whales

Close

The northern bottlenose whales became stranded on Rossnowlagh Beach yesterday in Donegal

The northern bottlenose whales became stranded on Rossnowlagh Beach yesterday in Donegal

The northern bottlenose whales became stranded on Rossnowlagh Beach yesterday in Donegal

A huge operation was undertaken off the coast of Donegal after up to eight northern bottlenose whales became stranded on a beach.

The pod came ashore at Rossnowlagh Beach yesterday morning in one of the largest mass strandings ever seen in Ireland.

Six of the whales were reported to have died last night, with one managing to swim out.

Dr Simon Berrow of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) said: "We know very little about them but they are prone to mass strandings.

"This is the largest such stranding of this species ever in Ireland. To be honest, there is very little we can do about it because the average whale weighs about three tonnes so they are not really good candidates for refloating," he added.

"At the moment, palliative care is being given and all we can do is to ask people to keep their distance in order to reduce the stress on them."

However, late last night one whale managed to refloat itself and swam out with the incoming tide. "We are cautiously optimistic it will make it out, but IWDG will stand by to see if it restrands," said a spokesperson.

The group continued to urge people to steer clear as crowds formed for selfies with one whale.

"We are receiving upsetting news from our first responders on site in Donegal that crowds are forming to take selfies with the only alive northern bottlenose whale," the IWDG said.

"We ask people to keep a safe distance from the whale, and, urge people to respect the whale and our members."

Staff from the IWDG and the National Parks and Wildlife Service are on site and will continue to monitor the situation.

The species are the largest member of the beaked whale family.

A spokesperson for the IWDG said the euthanasia of whales of this size is very difficult without Immobilon, a powerful opiate drug which is not available here.

"Shooting requires highly trained personnel," the spokesperson added.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service and Donegal County Council were due to assess the situation.