A YOUNG pilot whale which became stranded in shallow water near Cramond has died.
The coastguard was alerted after a member of the public called 999 after seeing the animal in difficulty about 20ft from the water’s edge near the Commodore Hotel at 9.30am.
The animal was seen swimming on its side in circles, and rescuers feared it may have an injured fin.
Though lifeboat crews were able to free it in the afternoon as the tide came in, it soon beached again further up the Forth.
Dozens of people gathered on the banks of the Forth as rescuers tried in vain to save the whale.
But as the rescue dragged on it became clear the animal was exhausted and had suffered cuts to its head.
An RNLI lifeboat was called to the scene from South Queensferry and placed on standby. Five workers could be seen in the water rocking the animal in an attempt to help it regain its balance. At around 1.30pm the animal swam away from the rescue workers as the gathered crowd waited with baited breath.
It headed in the direction of Cramond Island but beached again.
Eight hours into the rescue the whale stopped breathing, dying on a sandbank.
Rescuer Corinne Gordon from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue said: “Its incredibly disappointing and extremely sad. We did absolutely everything we possibly could do.
“We had successfully refloated it earlier and were hopeful it would recover but unfortunately it swam the wrong way before beaching itself again.
“We had planned to euthanize it but it appears to have stopped breathing on its own.”
Pilot whales, which can grow to 6.1m in length and can weigh up to 2,722kg, are common in the North Sea.
In September last year a pod of 17 whales died after they beached in Fife.