Watch: Distressed sperm whale 'may have freed itself' in Loch Eriboll

A SPERM whale that was feared to be trapped in a Scottish loch appears to have managed to escape, just as rescuers were ready to release it. Rescuers decided yesterday to mount an operation to free the distressed 30ft long sperm whale, which may have been entangled by a rope. But the juvenile has not been seen today at Loch Eriboll in Sutherland - where it has been since Wednesday and it is thought it may have released itself and found its way back out to sea. The Scottish SPCA and the British Divers Marine Life Rescue are monitoring the situation. The BDMLR said they had a boat searching the loch and a team split to search the shore to the west and east but did not report any positive sightings. Scottish SPCA inspector Maria Bain said:"Sperm whales are not common in the North Sea and after consulting with marine experts we believe it may be a juvenile that has lost its course. "We hope it has found the way back out to sea and will continue to monitor the situation." A spokeswoman for the BDMLR said:”There has been no sighting of the whale since darkness fell last night. “There are 101 reasons why it could have ended up in the loch - including navigational error. “We also were unable to confirm if it was entangled. We will continue to monitor the area, but at this stage there is no sign of it. It had moved to deeper water in the loch when it was last seen.” The alarm was raised just before 12.30pm on Wednesday and coastguard rescue teams were sent from nearby Durness and Melness. The Scottish SPCA is also continue to monitor the situation. The BDMLR had sent a specialist entanglement team of four from the Moray Firth and Ullapool areas to be ready to free the whale, if necessary. They were scouring the area today for any sign of the cetacean. The whale had at one time been seen close to the shore of the ten-mile long loch sparking concerns it could strand. Coastguards had appealed for people to stay away so as to not cause further distress to the animal. Sperm whales - the species on which Moby Dick was based - are one of the deepest diving mammals in the world and can grow to up to 18.3m (60ft) long. In January 2016, a humpback whale was freed from fishing gear used to catch prawns in Loch Eriboll. The 12m-long had become entangled in creels. Members of BDMLR managed to free the mammal from the ropes and guided it to safety. The loch is 9.9 miles long and has been used for centuries as a deep water anchorage as it is safe from the often stormy seas of Cape Wrath and the Pentland Firth. It is named after the village of Eriboll on its eastern shore.

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