Page last updated at 11:05 GMT, Saturday, 10 October 2009 12:05 UK

Whale dies following rescue bid

Whale in Loch Eil
The whale failed to reach the sea despite a large rescue effort

A whale which had become stranded in Loch Eil near Fort William has died, despite a huge rescue attempt.

A 10-hour operation took place last Sunday in a bid to lure the Northern Bottlenose Whale back into the sea.

This involved the first UK attempt in attracting a whale to safety by playing the sounds of killer whales underwater.

It was hoped the move had been successful after the whale was later seen near narrows, past which the loch expands into the sea.

However, the female whale, named Lilly by the Scottish SPCA, died in the nearby Loch Linnhe.

A post-mortem examination will be carried out to determine the cause of death.

'Sad ending'

Scottish SPCA Inspector Dawna Connolly said: "Despite successfully persuading Lilly to move into Loch Linnhe and towards the Corran Narrows, she was clearly unable to continue her journey any further.

"We have now removed her body from Loch Linnhe, where she spent her final hours.

"It is a very sad ending to what was a real team-effort to try to help this beautiful creature."

However, she said the rescuers had learned a lot from the techniques used in the operation which would be helpful for future rescues.

She added: "The Scottish SPCA would like to thank everyone who took part in the rescue operation. We did everything in our power to give Lilly the best chance of survival, but sadly it was not meant to be and nature eventually took its course."

The rescue attempt involved the Scottish SPCA, the St Andrews Sea Mammal Research Unit, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, British Divers Marine Life Rescue and the local coastguard and sailing club.

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