Three pilot whales were successfully refloated, for a second time, after coming ashore in Brandon Bay in west Kerry yesterday.
However, an appeal has been issued for vigilance by locals, holidaymakers and beachgoers in the area in the event of a further stranding of the whales.
There have also been calls for the establishment of a permanent stranding group dedicated to keep a watch out for whales, dolphins and other marine life.
The suggestion followed a number of strandings in recent years and, indeed, recent weeks in the Tralee Bay and Brandon areas.
The whales had stranded en masse early yesterday. However, an early alert by a farmer who contacted Dingle Oceanworld was a key factor in saving the entire pod, according to marine expert Kevin Flannery who heads the amenity.
“A rising tide lifts all — and the fact we were alerted so early meant we could get the pod out on the tide at 10am,” Mr Flannery said.
The three pilot whales which re-stranded yesterday were initially stranded among a large pod at Gowlane beach near Stradbally in Brandon Bay. Warnings went out and the three were being watched as they tried to come back ashore.
At lunchtime, they landed again further west at Brandon Pier. Tourists, locals and wildlife activists joined in the effort to refloat them.
The larger of the whales, a female, appeared to be in difficulty but it was decided to allow her out to sea, locals said.
Mr Flannery made the call for a permanent stranding group, and for a headquarters to be established in the west Kerry area to deal with the rich marine life passing Dingle, Brandon and Tralee bays.
In the past few weeks, he said, there had been six strandings, including a beaked whale. All of the mammals survived, it was suggested, thanks to the vigilance of locals and tourists summoning help.
Mr Flannery believes most of the whales and dolphins stranded had been chasing fish and came too close to the shore. The nearest expert group, the Irish Whale and Dolphin organisation is in Co Clare, and the National Parks and Wildlife Service can also be contacted but a more permanent grouping, dedicated to whales and dolphins was needed in Kerry, he said.
The area has experienced mass strandings in the past decade. In March 2002, just under 40 pilot whales stranded at Aughacasla in Tralee Bay. However, while 20 had been refloated, 17 others died.
At the time, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group said crucial hours had been lost in informing agencies.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved