Number of whales die after washing up on Co Donegal beach

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A number of whales have died after they washed up on a beach in Co Donegal.

Seven northern bottlenose whales were spotted at Rossnowlagh on Wednesday morning.

It is understood that just one is still alive.

It has been described as the largest live stranding of the breed in the Ireland's history.

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) have said the mammals swim in deep waters and were "likely distracted by loud noises".

Three of them washed up on the beach, while the other four were left stranded in shallow water.

The conservation group have asked people to stay away from the beach.

IWDG CEO Simon Berrow said the animals are prone to mass strandings and that this occasion is the largest of its kind in the country.

With regards saving the whales, he said that there are few options available.

He said: "Refloating is really not possible because they're so big and even if we could, is it the right thing to do?

"These are a deep diving species that live in 2000 metres of water, so are they going back in that habitat? No, they're going to be in shallow water in Donegal bay."

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group has been providing first aid on the beach. Credit: Irish Whale and Dolphin Group / Nicola Coyle

Mr Berrow also explained that it would be difficult to euthanise the animals as the drugs required aren't available in the Republic of Ireland.

He added: "The other option is to shoot them, but you do need highly trained personnel to do that."

The bodies are being removed on Thursday.