Burray whale update

Burray whale update
14 July 2020

Orkney Islands Council’s Environmental Health team is gathering information at the site in Burray where a Fin whale has washed ashore after it died in local waters.

In response to concerns raised by the local community, the Council is advising people to stay away from the whale and not come into contact with it.

Environmental Health Officer Paul Turner said: “Past experience of whales stranding in Orkney suggests that it can be very difficult to deal with a large whale, particularly if it has stranded on a rocky shoreline or soft sandy beach.

“Safe access for people and machinery would have to be considered and there is always the risk of an animal of this size breaking up if an attempt is made to move it.

“In circumstances like this, the safest way forward may well be to let nature take its course, unless there is an immediate public health risk and a practicable way to dispose of the whale. The assessment we are carrying out will help us provide advice on this.”

He added: “We are aware of people’s concerns and our advice to the public is to stay away from the whale. Providing you do not come into contact with it, there is no risk to your health.”

Local Green OIC Councillor Steve Sankey said: “The Fin whale at 85-foot long is the world’s second largest creature - only the Blue whale is bigger.

“The whale in Hunda Sound is a juvenile and only half this size, but even so is a large animal and almost certainly simply impractical to deal with.

“It’s a sad story, but on a wider scale Fin whales are now doing reasonably well and their population has doubled since the 1970s such that they are now considered vulnerable and not endangered.

“All that said, people should simply stay away from the carcass as it decomposes, and by following this simple rule there will be no threat to human health.”

The Environmental Health team will continue to monitor the situation.

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Telephone: 01856 873535

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