In 2011 a sad and mysterious sight on Scotland’s north coast galvanized the world’s attention. A large group of long-finned pilot whales entered the shallow water at Cape Wrath, a designated bombing range. Efforts were made to push the whales back out to sea, but many were left stranded.
A new report titled “Investigation into the long-finned pilot whale mass stranding event, Kyle of Durness, 22nd July 2011” has just been released, led by SRUC scientist Andrew Brownlow. The report concludes that Royal Navy bombings were responsible for the deaths of 19 pilot whales. Three 1,000 pound bombs were detonated nearby by the Royal Navy. “The magnitude, frequency and proximity of the multiple detonations in the day prior to the stranding,” reads the report, “and the single high-order detonation shortly after the beginning of the mass stranding, were plausible sources of significant disturbance to any neighbouring marine mammals.” The fourth bomb probably caused the whales greater confusion, affecting the “navigational competence of any cetaceans in proximity.”