Gallery: No sightings of whale pod off Essex coastline

Pilot Whales off the coast of Essex

Pilot Whales off the coast of Essex - Credit: Archant

A pod of whales seen off the Essex coast earlier this week have not been sighted today, as new pictures emerge of the beautiful aquatic mammals.

The group of 40 pilot whales was first spotted in the vicinity of the Blackwater estuary on Tuesday, and last seen late yesterday afternoon.

Almost 24 hours has now passed since they were last seen.

It suggests the whales have, at least for now, left the vicinity of the estuary possibly after the death of a young female member of the pod.

The whale, which was emaciated and had a skin condition, was found dead on the shore near Goldhanger on Thursday.

A number of wildlife experts, fisheries officers and even Essex Police have been taking part in an operation to turn the pod back out into deeper water, with concerns they could beach on offshore sandbanks or the coast.

Initially they did swim up towards Jaywick and Brightlingsea, but later returned to the Blackwater.

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Brightlingsea-based fisheries officer Colm O Laoi took some stunning photos of the whales as they passed along the coastline.

The whales are usually found in deeper water off the coast of Scotland, but it is thought they came closer to shore after chasing a shoal of herring.

Stephen Marsh, operations manager with the British Divers Marine Life Rescue organisation which has been leading the operation, said: “They are out there somewhere and they are not out of danger yet as they are still in the south of England.

“But hopefully they have gone out to deeper waters.

“The fact we found the body of a whale, which had died in 24 hours beforehand, is probably what brought them closer to shore to care for a sickly animal.

“It has been a real multi-agency operation, it all went very well, and we could not have done it without the Essex Police marine unit, Natural England, the Marine Management Organisation and the Essex Wildlife Trust among others.”

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