The future of UK’s orca population is in jeopardy after one of the country’s only known resident killer whales was found dead off a Scottish island.
The female killer whale, identified as ‘Lulu’ by orca specialists, was stranded on the Isle of Tiree on January 3.
She belonged to a small and prominent group in Britain and Ireland’s only known resident population of killer whales, which is feared to be at risk of extinction, according to Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT).
'Lulu' was first catalogued by the charity in 1995 and last photographed in the water off Waternish, Isle of Skye in July 2014. During this encounter, she was seen with a large male , 'John Coe', and another female named 'Moneypenny'.
HWDT says there may be as few as eightindividuals remaining in this population, which has not produced calves since studies began.
Dr. Andy Foote, a killer whale specialist, confirmed the photo-id match of 'Lulu', which was made using the distinctive eye and saddle patches unique to individuals.
Representatives from the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme hope to conduct an examination which might shed light on the cause of the killer whale's death.