Tragedy completes a busy RNLI summer

RNLI crew members try to keep a pilot whale alive during the tragic beaching.
RNLI crew members try to keep a pilot whale alive during the tragic beaching.

THE tragic beaching of a pod of pilot whales on the Neuk coast brought the curtain down on a busy summer for the RNLI.

Early in September, 26 whales beached in a mass stranding at the foot of the steep cliffs below the coastal path between Anstruther and Pittenweem.

The RNLI joined other emergency services, along with the general public in a combined effort to try to save the mammals.

Although some of the whales died, Gareth Norman, incident co-ordinator from British Divers Marine Life Rescue said: “The RNLI crew played an invaluable role, without them the rescue could have had a very different outcome.”

Emergency crews spent hours at the shoreside trying to keep the whales alive and encourage them back out to sea.

And their help proved invaluable, as it was reckoned around 10 successfully managed to make their way out again.

Lifeboats in Scotland launched nearly five times a day during the summer period, according to figures released by the charity.

The RNLI’s 46 stations in Scotland launched a total of 417 times during the months of June, July, August, an increase of four per cent compared with the same period in 2011.

Paul Jennings, the RNLI’s Divisional Inspector for Scotland, said: “Once again our volunteer lifeboat crews in Scotland have shown they are committed and courageous individuals, on stand-by to save lives at sea come rain or shine.

“Behind the crews are a huge team of volunteers, the station management volunteers, shore helpers and fund-raisers, to whom we owe our thanks for ensuring the RNLI can keep on saving lives at sea.”

The increase in activity coincided with a period of good weather along the west coast of Scotland, where the stations were busier than normal. Much of the rest of Scotland endured a wet summer and there were fewer call-outs for some of the stations.

The busiest station in the summer was Troon, with 25 shouts, an increase of three on 2011.

The busiest inshore station was Queensferry, where the volunteers had 21 shouts, a drop of four compared with 2011.