A KILLER whale calf is believed to have suffered an agonising death after being thrown ashore by the force of Storm Caroline.
Tragic images show the young orca’s body on a grassy Shetland shoreline almost three weeks after the storm hit.
It is believed the whale died of dehydration or was crushed by its own body weight after becoming stranded.
The three-metre long animal was discovered by a member of the public on the west coast of Shetland’s main island.
According to the Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary, the island’s only wild animal rehabilitation centre, the whale was likely separated from its mother and pod by the weather.
The images of the calf show it at least 25 metres from the shoreline.
The Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary attended the beached animal and reported the beaching to the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme (SMAS) who have carried out a post-mortem.
A spokeswoman for the sanctuary said: “It’s very sad. We think it was thrown up onto the shore during Storm Caroline while it was still alive. Although, it wasn’t spotted until a week later by a member of the public.
“It appears to be around two or three years old and in good condition. We’re waiting for the results of the autopsy but it appears to have died after being beached during the storm.
“There’s not any breeding pods around the Scottish shorelines other than around Shetland and the Norway coastline. So it’s very sad to see such a young male.”
Posting the snaps of the whale online, the animal rescue centre wrote: “On Thursday we were called out to find a second dead killer whale washed up on Shetland’s coastline this year.
“This week we came across this juvenile male in Eshaness, washed a long way up the banks by Storm Caroline a week earlier.
“Very sad, as it was one of Shetland’s young orcas, and there aren’t many young orcas in Europe, let alone the UK.
“We took samples for Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme who are hoping to carry out a full autopsy to establish the cause of death.”
The post has attracted nearly 900 reactions from social media users and over 100 comments.
Annie Davidson said: “Not another! Desperately tragic to lose another member of the pod, especially a youngster.”
Charlee[CORR] Butler wrote: “How awful to lose such a beautiful creature so young.”
Alison Cramp commented: “Oh dear,it’s sad to see these magnificent creatures dead or dying.Lets hope you find out why.”
Earlier this year it was revealed year a female killer whale named Lulu died after becoming entangled in a creel rope on the Isle of Tiree in the Hebrides, Scotland.
Researchers have analysed the remains of the sea creature and found that she had one of the highest levels of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) pollution ever recorded in the species.
The orcas blubber revealed PCB concentrations – which are linked to poor health and increased risk of cancer – 80 times higher than the accepted threshold.
Although the chemical has been banned since the 1980s, experts say the shocking findings highlight the long-lasting damage of PCBs on marine life.