Published Monday, 07 July 2014
Four of the whales died on Falcarragh Strand. (© Barry Whyte)
The public swarmed to the beach after the pod of 13 animals was discovered on the Falcarragh Strand and Ballyness beach on Monday morning.
Four of the whales died, and wildlife experts said they expected all of the pod to eventually succumb to suffocation on the beach.
However, a large group of people descended on the secluded beach and worked tirelessly to get the nine remaining animals back into the sea.
Highland Radio news reporter Barry Whyte spent most of the day at the scene.
He told UTV: "A huge number of people, probably between 50 and 60, came to the area when they heard the news.
"Everyone really got together to help get the whales back to the sea.
"Diggers arrived to lift them and there were people wading into the water carrying the whales.
"A lot of people said it was just amazing to see something they wouldn't normally see and there were young children on the beach in tears trying to save the whales."
The Coastguard also worked to try and encourage the animals to stay out at sea, however, despite their efforts there have been reports the whales were again heading toward shallow waters and the beaches to strand themselves again.
Dave Duggan, regional manager for the Republic's National Parks and Wildlife Service said mass strandings were a regular occurrence throughout nature and in most cases it meant the animals eventually died of suffocation.
He said: "What can happen is that one of the pod will swim into shallow water and the rest will follow.
"It can be very distressing for the animals and those trying to provide help and assistance as in most cases the whales all die.
"They obviously can't survive too well out of the water and with them being such large creatures, they eventually suffocate on the beach.
"It can be very difficult to get the right equipment to the animals, as quickly as they need it especially with it being in such a remote area.
"It is also very common for the whales to head back to the beach and strand themselves again after they have been re-floated.
"We normally advise the public to stay clear of the animals, it can be risky to go near them and unfortunately you have to allow nature to takes its course".
© UTV News