Highlands & Islands

Royal Navy 'changes training' to avoid whales

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Media captionVolunteers in frantic whale rescue

The Royal Navy has taken steps to avoid two areas off Scotland where whales have been spotted, British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) has said.

Some training as part of Exercise Joint Warrior has been altered to avoid Portmahomack in Easter Ross where three long-finned pilot whales were stranded.

Two of the whales have been returned to the sea. The third animal died.

The navy has also noted the location of a sperm whale off Mull which was seen in Oban bay earlier this month.

Stephen Marsh, of BDMLR, told BBC Radio Scotland that it was not known why pilot whales had stranded overnight.

He said military training had been due to take place at sea nearby, but the Royal Navy had sought an alternative location to avoid distressing the surviving animals.

Mr Marsh added that the charity worked closely with the Royal Navy when it was known when whales were close to training areas.

The Scottish SPCA said members of the public had helped police and coastguard personnel to get the pilot whales back to sea.

The sperm whale, a deep diving species, spent almost nine days in the shallow waters of Oban bay before swimming back out to sea.

Joint Warrior is Europe's largest military exercise and is held twice a year.

This year's first round of training is taking place across Scotland until 29 April.

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