Thirty-three pilot whales have been found dead on Rutland Island, Co. Donegal in Ireland on the 6th November. This followed a report to SWF of 30-40 pilot whales that were dangerously close to shore and seemed to be in distress in Uist, Outer Hebrides on the 28th October. It is most likely that these are the same group of animals.
Long-finned pilot whales are well distributed in British and Irish waters. There are a few sightings of the species each year but it is unusual to see them close to shore as they predominantly feed on cephalopods in deeper waters.
It is not known what caused these animals to beach but mass stranding events of pilot whales does happen worldwide. It is often the case for this species that if there are a few sick individuals that seek shallow waters, the whole group will follow and even the healthy individuals are unable to make their way back out to sea and unfortunately strand.
Another possible cause of stranding is significant noise pollution such as that produced from naval exercises that may disturb and disorientate the animals.
The condition of the whales once found was not good so it is unlikely that a cause of death can be confirmed from post mortems.