A WHALE which stranded on an Edinburgh beach, sparking an eight-hour rescue attempt, has died.
The coastguard were 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 in Cramond on Tuesday morning.
The pilot whale was seen swimming on its side in circles at around 9.30, and rescuers feared it may have a picked up a neurological condition.
Though lifeboat crews were able to free it in the afternoon as the tide came in, it soon beached again further up the Forth.
Around 100 people gathered on the banks of the Forth as rescuers tried to save the whale.
But as the rescue dragged on it became clear the animal was exhausted and had suffered injuries to its head.
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.”
Initially an RNLI lifeboat was called to the scene from South Queensferry and placed on standby.
At the site of its first standing, 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.
Initially it swam on its side but the whale soon rectified itself.
It headed in the direction of Cramond Island but beached again, and rescue workers from British Divers Marine Life Rescue continued attempts to refloat the whale.
A rescue worker, who did not wish to be named, said: “It’s really very difficult because these things weigh a tonne.
“We are waiting on a floatation device coming to help keep it a float in the water and it will hopefully get its balance back soon but it can take a very long time.”
After its second stranding, the whale had clear wounds on its head from colliding with rocks.
Rescuers attempting to move the whale off the beach said it was sitting on very sharp stones.
Brucella is a bacterial infection that can cause these symptoms and meningoecephalitis is a fungal infection similar to meningitis in humans.
They were warned to visit their doctor if they displayed any signs of illness as their could potentially be serious complications for their health.
Kayleigh Taylor, 25, watched the whale swim up the river towards Cramond beach.
The chef said: “I’m so chuffed it’s swam away from the rescue team but its going the wrong way.
“It’s not looking very good to be honest but I know everyone in the crowd has their fingers crossed.”
John Scott, a retired whaler from Edinburgh, was at the waterside as the rescue attempt got underway.
The 73-year-old said in the morning: “It seems to be getting better, it was thrashing about earlier, making loads of noise.
“It was stuck in really shallow water earlier, kind of swimming around in circles.
“But now the tide is coming in pretty fast so I hope it’ll be okay.”
He added: “You do see whales in the river quite often but not this close. It’s small though so I think its a baby.”
A coastguard spokeswoman said: “We got a call at around 9.30 from a member of the public who was concerned about it.
“It seems to be on its side and going round in circles.”
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.