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Wildlife experts herd pod of whales into deeper water

A pod of pilot whales spotted off the Essex coast are being herded out to open water in an effort to stop them becoming beached.

Wildlife experts, the British Divers Marine Life Rescue and Essex Police's marine unit are trying to coax the 40-strong group further out to sea so they avoid becoming stranded on mud flats near the shore.

The whales were spotted sheltering near the Blackwater Estuary, a shallow stretch of water dotted with several shoals and mud flats that could prove deadly to the whales if they become trapped at low tide.

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However, residents who feared they would get stuck elsewhere hired a plane to track them down.

The whales' predicament in the frigid waters of Hudson Bay made international headlines, and locals had been planning a rescue operation with chainsaws and drills before the mammals slipped away.

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Seventeen of the whales stranded in Scotland die

Members of the emergency services attempt to refloat a pilot whale after a pod beached near Pittenweem off the coast of Fife. Credit: PA

Seventeen whales have died in a stranding off the coast of Fife.

The mammals were part of a group of 27 pilot whales stranded at Pittenweem, which is near St Andrews.

Dead pilot whales after they beached near Pittenweem off the coast of Fife. Credit: PA

Ten of the whales have been refloated. They have been kept alive by vets from British Divers and Marine Life Rescue, with assistance from the emergency services including Fife fire service.

Emergency Service workers stand next to dead pilot whales after they beached near Pittenweem off the coast of Fife. Credit: PA

Forth Coastguard was alerted to the accident just after 7am, with first reports indicating a mass stranding of dolphins.

Volunteer medics from BDMLR were dispatched to the vicininty, with specialist rescue pontoons being sent to the spot from across Scotland, Newcastle and Cumbria.

Over 20 whales die in mass stranding off Fife

Over 20 pilot whales have died after becoming stranded off the coast of Fife.

Some were already dead by the time animal rescue teams arrived at the beach in Pittenweem, near St Andrews, but many had to be put down later, the local coastguard said.

Nine of the 30 whales in the mass stranding are being kept alive by vets from British Divers and Marine Life Rescue, with help from the Fife Fire & Rescue Service.

They hope to refloat four of the mammals at high tide this afternoon, the coastguard added.

The public has been urged to stay away to allow the rescue teams to continue their efforts.