A leading marine specialist has warned that lessons must be learned from the stranding of a pod of whales on a Co Donegal beach last week.
Dr. Mick O’Connell commended the bravery of all those who tried to rescue the whales when they beached at Ballyness Beach on Monday morning last.
However, Dr O’Connell, who is the stranding co-ordinator with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group warned people could have been hurt.
He commended the “remarkable enthusiasm” of all those who managed to temporarily put the Pilot Whales back to sea.
But he said “There also appeared to be no experienced person in charge of the situation.
“Terrified six metre whales are potentially dangerous animals so care is needed that nobody gets hurt, especially when good intentions outweigh experience.”
Many locals took to the water in a genuine bid to help release the whales back to sea.
However a circus-like atmosphere was created when the whales beached as children straddled on the backs of the creatures.
Dr O’Connell said he believes the National Parks and Wildlife Service must take a lead for future beachings as they are responsible for whales, dolphins and porpoises.
“The relevant agency needs to have in place a coastal network of personnel trained in the latest best practice guidelines for dealing with live strandings, backed up with appropriate authority to act as a beachmaster,” he said.