ATTEMPTS to herd a pod of whales that visited Millport’s Kames Bay into open water failed ahead of a large-scale military exercise taking place on the Clyde.

Boats from a number of organisations, including the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) charity, attempted to push the northern bottlenose whales out of Gare Loch towards the Firth of Clyde.

Concerns were raised about the presence of the creatures near Faslane Naval Base, which is featuring heavily in Exercise Joint Warrior, a NATO members training exercise involving drills on the river.

Crews attempting to herd the whales out into the Clyde decided against returning to the water for a second day and will instead monitor the animals over the coming weeks.

David Nairn, from Fairlie Coastal, says the decision to either allow the whales to stay in the area or attempt to move them was a difficult one.

He said: “Historically, their normal environment is off the shelf, but it is not uncommon for them to come into the Clyde.

“There are lots of concerns about the noises that come from naval sonar and their defence systems, and also from fish farm deterrent devices.

“It looks like the whales are going to the heads of the lochs where it is most quiet, or they may be trying to just go north.

“The sentiment of trying to chase them out compared to letting them roam free means rescuers are stuck between a rock and hard place.

“They have got to do something but it is a difficult decision. You’re trying to get a wild animal to do something it doesn’t want to, but it is for their own good.

“It would be nice to open up communications with sonar operators at the bases, just to work together and warn them of any creatures in the area.”

Rescuers attempted to use a flotilla of vessels to encourage the pod out of the loch and towards the open sea, with the RNLI and medics on standby watching from the shore.

The teams on the water used tactics including engine noise, blocking side channels and using banging poles to drive the whales, however the animals continued to evade capture.

A BDMLR statement said: “During debrief, a decision was made not to return for a second day due to stress levels in the animals and that simply repeating the same manoeuvres would not be any more likely to succeed given the geography and behaviour of the whales.

“We have however leant a great deal about the behaviour of these whales for any future relocation of the species."