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  1. ITV Report

Probe launched after 22 whales found dead in Fife

A woman walking past dead pilot whales after they beached near Pittenweem off the coast of Fife. Photo: PA

A report is being done on why a group of 22 whales died in a mass stranding on the Fife coast in Scotland. Twenty-two pilot whales died when they became beached between Pittenweem and Anstruther earlier this month.

A dead sea whale was also found on a beach at Eliot near Arbroath last week.

Scientists at the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) have been looking at the carcasses to try to establish the cause of the mammals' deaths.

Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead has asked for a full report into the deaths, with the results to be made available "as soon as possible". He said:

It is deeply distressing when we hear reports of whales dying, particularly mass stranding incidents such as we saw earlier this month in Fife. The reasons why whale strandings take place, be it natural causes or linked to human activities, are not known. The initial findings do not point towards any obvious health problems, however I hope that by examining and testing the carcasses, SAC will be able to shed light on this concerning issue.

There are a number reasons why whales come near the shore and strand, says SAC veterinary investigation officer Andrew Brownlow:

Initial results on the pilot whales suggest most were healthy. Strandings are sadly not uncommon with social cetacean species, where many animals appear to strand because they follow a sick, lost or panicked individual