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Whale investigation in Sutherland today

By Mike Merritt

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Fishing gear is greatest killer of whales.
Fishing gear is greatest killer of whales.

A minke whale that was stranded dead on a Sutherland island appears to have been snared by fishing gear.

Experts from the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme are hoping to travel to uninhabited Oldany Island today to carry out an examination of the female.

The animal was discovered by a French tourist on the large tidal island in Assynt.

Nick Davison, strandings coordinators with SMASS, said lesions on the minke suggested it had been the victim of entanglement.

"We think it has been dead for a little while and had either been cut free from gear or had managed to escape, but later died," he said.

"Either way it is a sad end. Entanglement is the biggest cause of death found in stranded minke whales."

Six organisations last year joined forces to tackle the threats posed to marine wildlife - such as seals, whales and dolphins - from lost fishing gear along Scotland's coast.

More than a sixth of the most common species of whale found in Scottish waters - minke whales - have been damaged by fishing equipment, a previous investigation has revealed.

Now the Scottish Entanglement Alliance (SEA) said it will work closely with the inshore fishing industry to better understand the scale of the problem.

Another aim is to raise greater awareness of it.

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