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Current location: Scotland
Member since: Mon Sep 7, 2009, 12:57 AM
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Rescuers race to herd whales away from military exercise in Scotland

GARE LOCH, Scotland (Reuters) - Rescuers are racing to herd a group of whales out of a Scottish loch ahead of major military exercises that conservationists fear could distress the giant cetaceans.

The pod of northern bottlenose whales, which can dive to depths of 2,000 metres and rarely visit coastal waters, were first noticed around Loch Goil but then ended up in the Clyde.

Five of the whales - which can grow up to 11.2 metres in length and weigh over 7 tonnes - have been spotted around the Loch Long area and have entered some of the smaller lochs nearby ahead of a military exercise due shortly.
Europe's largest military exercise - Joint Warrior - begins on Saturday with its headquarters at at Faslane naval base next to Gare Loch.


The Gareloch is just on our doorstep, some 20 miles down the River Clyde from Glasgow. We heard this morning that an attempt was going to be made starting around 12.20pm to herd them out of the loch into the Clyde Estuary and deeper, less enclosed waters.

A pod of three to five bottlenose whales has been in the Clyde area for a week or so, heading up the neighbouring Loch Long to near Arrochar, where they put on some grand shows for photographers. Three of them then moved to the head of the Gareloch, where the Faslane submarine base is sited.

The buildings in the background are used to service the UK's Trident submarine fleet. The base also berths and services a number of surface vessels (none of the photos in this post are ours).

People were at first understandably excited and entranced at the chance to get such close-up views of these magnificent beasts.


lifewithoutnukes 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿
Now these visitors 🐳 are the kind we love 💓 seeing in the #Gareloch #Whales #Argyll #Scotland #marinelife

[Twitter video]

Unfortunately, scientists feel they're in some distress and rather thin, so they're not thriving.

Faslane is due to host the major annual Exercise Joint Warrior around the Scottish coast beginning this weekend, and ships from various navies have already begun to arrive in the area.

The fear is that the whales may be disturbed by the increased traffic and beach in the shallow waters at the head of the loch, which would obviously be disastrous. Any danger they might pose to shipping in the relatively enclosed waters is a subsidiary concern.

So we headed out around 4pm to see if we could witness what was going on. By the time we arrived, we found a flotilla of RIBs heading in formation beyond the Rhu Narrows, which is where the Gareloch opens out into more expansive waters. Here's an aerial view:

And here's a closer one:

We could hear some sounds from the RIBs, as if someone was banging a tin pot, presumably as part of the herding effort. After a while, the RIBs gathered into a raft and stayed put for about 20 minutes.

We hoped at that point that they'd been successful and were allowing the pod to make its own way into the Firth of Clyde. The RIBs then dispersed back into the Gareloch. so we haded around the Rosneath Peninsula to get a better view of the wider Clyde. We encountered some Coastguard vehicles, so stopped to ask them what they knew. Sadly, they'd heard over their radios that the pod had turned back into the Gareloch, so today's effort had been a failure.

Here's the latest developments I could find in the media:

Gareloch whales rescue bid goes on after first attempt fails

A multi-team operation to herd a pod of whales stranded in shallow water near Helensburgh to safety is continuing this evening - after the first rescue attempt failed.
An update shared on the BDMLR Facebook page shortly before 5pm said: "The whales were successfully herded towards the mouth of the loch earlier today, however as the whales reached Rhu Point, they changed direction and headed back towards Garelochhead.

The boats have stopped to refuel and regroup, the operation will then continue.

"With an increasing amount of traffic on the water our spotters on shore are finding it difficult to monitor the movement of the animals."

NATO military exercise, Joint Warrior, is set to start this weekend, bringing with it an influx of vessels to the Faslane naval base over the next few days, and the MoD has said that it would be prepared to amend the scheduled programme of activity if circumstances involving the whales dictate.



Spectacular scenery across Gare Loch this evening as our team make a final attempt to move the Northern Bottlenose Whales out of the Loch. We'd like to thank the locals, boat operators, the MoD and everyone who has given their support and assistance today. 👏 🐋

Samantha McFarlane

[Twitter video]

"The problems the president had tonight can potentially be fixed" - Chris Christie on ABC

Jennifer Epstein
"The problems the president had tonight can potentially be fixed," says Chris Christie, who is part of the Trump debate prep team, on ABC.

A resounding vote of confidence there from Christie.

Maybe substitute Trump's Adderall stash with ketamine?

Hillary chimes in

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