Locals reacted angrily yesterday after five Pilot Whales, which were part of a larger pod, were allowed to die over several hours on a scenic beach in Falcarragh.
The whales were part of the pod of 13 whales which beached at Ballyness Beach in the early hours of Monday morning.
The whales were saved on two occasions in an operation involving dozens of people and a local man using a JCB to drag the whales back out to deep water.
However seven of the whales which were successfully ushered back out to sea beached again an hour later just before 5pm on Monday afternoon.
Yesterday there were distressing scenes as the five surviving whales lay dying on the beach about a kilometre from the original beaching.
Earlier in the day a total of seven of the whales were buried in a ten foot deep mass grave and covered in lime.
A young Austrian woman, who is spending the summer, in Donegal was visibly upset.
Antonia Leifner, 24, made numerous journeys to the water’s edge to gather water to pour on the dying animals.
She said “I am so sad. I do not see why these beautiful creatures should be allowed to suffer like this.
“This is not right. This is not humane. They should be put to sleep humanely,” she said.
Other families walking on the beach were also visibly upset by the whales struggling to breath.
Workers from the National Parks and Wildlife Service were on scene.
Earlier in the day they had pleaded with people not to visit the beach to allow the whales to die in peace and not to interfere with machinery burying the animals.
Regional Manager of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Mr Dave Duggan, said he appreciated people were upset.
He revealed the NPWS normally had two options to dispose of such animals including lethal injection and by firearm.
“They are the two normal options but they were just not available to us.
“Using an injection requires a very specialist chemical and we did not feel it was appropriate using a firearm on a public beach with members of the public about.
“We appreciate it was distressing for passers-by but we had no option but to let the whales pass away naturally,” he said.
Local county councillor Seamus O’Domhnaill, who has attended the scene for the past two days, said he appreciated that people were upset when they heard the dying whales gasping for air.
“Of course it is upsetting but that is part of the reason why the NPWS asked people to stay away.
“Hopefully the remainder of the pod will pass away and we can bury them humanely,” he said.
A spokesman for Donegal County Council, who oversees the disposal of the dead whales said “In the interest of minimising potential environmental damage, it has been agreed to bury the carcasses at the beach.”
All 12 of the beached whales have now died while there were also unconfirmed reports last night that another whale, believed to be the last remaining in the pod, had beached.Tags: