Highlands & Islands

Sperm whale 'tangled in rope' in loch near Durness

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Media captionSperm whale trapped in Loch Eriboll in Highlands

An attempt is to be made to help a sperm whale reported to have got itself tangled in rope in a Highlands loch.

The animal, which has been estimated to be up to 9m (30ft) long, was spotted in Loch Eriboll, near Durness, Sutherland, at about 12:30 on Wednesday.

Coastguard and British Divers Marine Life Rescue Team (BDMLR) volunteers have been monitoring the whale.

A BDMLR team with specialist equipment had hoped to reach the loch on Thursday but was delayed.

The team, which had a mechanical problem with its vehicle while travelling to Sutherland's north coast, plans to assess the whale at first light on Friday.

BDMLR said it still had to confirm if the whale was caught in rope, adding that the animal might be ill or injured.

Image copyright Hugh Maclellan
Image caption A rescue of the whale is expected to begin later on Thursday
Image copyright Hugh Maclellan
Image caption Volunteers have been monitoring the whale

The whale was seen earlier on Thursday swimming slowly in the loch.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has asked any members of the public trying to find a vantage point from where they might see the whale to take care on the coastline.

It has also asked that people leave the rescue effort "to the experts".

Image copyright Laura Shirra BDMLR
Image caption A humpback whale was rescued from the same loch in January 2016

Durness, Melness and Kinlochbervie coastguard rescue teams along with BDMLR volunteers and Scottish SPCA officers have been monitoring the whale.

Sperm whales are one of the world's deepest diving mammals.

Males can grow to more than 18m (59ft) in length and females to more than 12m (40ft).

In January 2016, a humpback whale was freed from fishing gear used to catch prawns in Loch Eriboll.

The 12m-long whale had become entangled in creels.

Members of BDMLR managed to free the mammal from the ropes and guided it to safety.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sperm whales are one of the world's deepest diving mammals

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