Experts believe that the 35 whales off the coat of Donegal were killed by submarines.

The 35 whales were found on the beach at Rutland Island, near Burtonport, on Saturday by Seamus Boyle, a ferry operator.

Doctor Simon Berrow, of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group announced that an investigation into the discovery will examine the naval activity off the coast.

“That is certainly one possibility. Pilot whales are very sociable creatures but they spent most of their time in deeper waters,” Dr Berrow told Highland Radio.

“A number of experts suspect one of the reasons for beachings like this is that the whales’ sonar is interfered by naval activity such as submarines.

“They could have been driven towards land which resulted in their deaths,” said Dr Berrow.

Dr Berrow also said that this is one of the largest mass deaths in Irish history.

“This could be the third highest recording. The last highest recording was in 2001 off the coast of Co Kerry when 40 whales died.

“It’s every important now that we try and learn from this and discover why these creatures died.”

Due to the large number of whales Berrow said that Donegal County Council will probably have to bury the corpses due to the size of the operation.
“It will be quite a large operation and Donegal County Council may decide that they need to bury the whales. Otherwise they could be allowed to just decay but because of the number involved there could be an environmental impact,” he said.

The group of Pilot whales was swimming off County Donegal for a week before they were found dead. Veterinary experts from England and Scotland had planned to travel to the area and carry out post-mortems on the animals. However the severe weather caused them to cancel their trip.

Doctor Ian O’Connor along with a number of students from Galway / Mayo Institute of Technology are also planning to travel to the area to record data, including the whale’s weight and length. Skin and teeth samples will also be taken for genetic studies.
The group will also try to determine whether the whales beached in Donegal could be from the same pod that beached itself off Scotland, in the Outer Hebrides recently.