Free Lilly

By Rebecca Gordon

Courtesy of

Hopes are high for a whale beached in Loch Eil, following a gruelling rescue effort. Using killer whale noises, conservation groups prompted the juvenile bottlenose, nicknamed ‘Lilly’, into Loch Linnhe in the first rescue of it’s kind in the UK.

The team rescue, which involved St Andrews Sea Mammal Research Unit, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, British Divers Marine Life Rescue and the local coastguard and sailing club, began on Sunday following the whale’s beaching on Tuesday. SSPCA Inspector Dawn Connolly, who co-ordinated the attempt, is positive that the whale, who was last seen near Corran Narrows, will return to safety “If she can make it beyond the Narrows, there’s a good chance she’ll return to the sea. We haven’t seen her since Monday, which is excellent news.”

But the young female, thought to have become lost while migrating, isn’t out of danger yet “there are no guarantees she won’t turn around or run out of energy and beach herself.”

After SSPCA’s pioneering work with the St Andrews Sea Mammal Research Unit, Inspector Connolly hopes their rescue technique will come in useful for future rescues “Man made noises were also used and while these were perhaps the most effective it was an extremely useful experiment which may lead the way
towards using similar techniques in the future.”

But for now, rescuers must leave Lilly’s fate to the tides “all we can do is hope that tides, luck and determination will help this whale to safety.”