British marine wildlife experts plan to attempt to redirect a pod of whales out of the waters of Scotland ahead of major European naval exercises.
Exercise Joint Warrior is scheduled to begin this weekend in a chain of sea lochs on the country’s west coast, but animal rights activists have said sonar from naval ships will place whales at risk, according to The Associated Press.
Ships, aircraft and troops from France, Germany, Turkey, Japan, Canada, the Netherlands and the U.S. are scheduled to be involved in the exercises, which will last through Oct. 15.
The British Divers Marine Life Rescue told the BBC that at least five whales have been seen in the Long Loch area and that some have entered adjacent, smaller bodies of water.
“It is very unusual for them to be in coastal waters, however we have had similar incidents in recent years where animals of the same species have entered lochs, including Loch Long, that have subsequently left of their own accord without intervention, and presumably have succeeded in returning to their proper habitat,” a spokesman told the outlet.
“We recently became aware that a significant military exercise is due to begin next week, and as whales are particularly sensitive to underwater sound, have been concerned about the effect it may have on the animals,” the spokesman added.
British Divers Marine Life Rescue Medics plan to attempt to turn the whales back out to sea using military boats and the group’s rescue boats, according to the AP. However, they said, “there is no guarantee it will be successful, given the depth of water and distance that needs to be covered.”
The animals are northern bottlenose whales, which live predominantly off the west coast of the U.K. and Ireland.