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Whales Stranded at Inganess
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Whales Stranded at Inganess

Picture added on 13 July 2004
Was this an accidental stranding or were they driven ashore to be slaughtered?
Added by Ross Flett on 02 December 2022
I think this was probably the occasion, from "The Orkney Herald", Wednesday 29th July 1891. Note that operations were suspended for the Sabbath, the hunters no doubt watching anxiously from the shore all day, just like the scene in "Whisky Galore":
On Saturday night, and at an early hour on Monday morning, exciting scenes were witnessed in Inganess Bay near the Tankerness shore, and the Bay of Gillies, in connection with the chase and capture of a large number of whales which had found their way into those localities. The whales were first sighted in Linton Bay on the east side of Shapinsay, between four and five o'clock on Saturday afternoon, and preparations were at once made by those in the neighbourhood for effecting their capture. About half a dozen boat crews put off and started the whales in the direction of the shore. The entire school moved away in a southerly direction heading along the Shapinsay coast towards Inganess Bay. When once started they swam along rapidly, the boats for some time having great difficulty in keeping up with them. They only once slightly turned when within a short distance from the sand of Wideford, where 43 of them were landed from 9 o'clock up till midnight, when operations were suspended, after the captured whales had been slaughtered. The chase was re-commenced about 1 o'clock on Monday morning, and about 2 o'clock the first whale out of a batch of 74 was landed on the shore of the bay of Gilles, the entire lot being secured and landed by about 6 o'clock. There were half-a-dozen Shapinsay boats and five boats from Tankerness and neighbourhood engaged in the hunt and capture on Saturday, and on Monday six boats' crews composed of men from Tankerness and vicinity, and three boats with men from Kirkwall took part in the exciting scene. A large number of the spectators also assisted in landing the whales, which were of the bottle-nosed species, with the exception of a few landed on the sand of Wideford. The largest one was nearly twenty-one feet in length, four of the others being slightly over twenty feet, the average length being 13 1/2 feet. No casualty occurred, with the exception of an injury that one of the boats sustained through being struck by the tail of one of larger whales. Several of the huge creatures lashed out fiercely after being lanced but their desperate strokes were fortunately avoided by those engaged in slaughtering them. It is intended that the sale of the carcases of the captured whales shall take place at 12 o'clock to-day (Wednesday) provided the weather permits of the mail steamer Express crossing the Pentland Firth from Scrabster to Scapa with prospective buyers from the mainland of Scotland, intimation of the catch and the proposed sale by public auction having been sent to persons likely to buy the whales in Montrose. Dundee, and Lossiemouth. In case stress of weather renders it impossible for the steamer to cross the Firth, the sale will probably be postponed until the following day. The capture has created a considerable amount of interest in the district, and the locality has been visited by numbers of people from Kirkwall and the surrounding neighbourhood, many finding their way to the scene of the hunt and subsequent slaughter on Sunday. Monday, and yesterday.

Added by Paul Sutherland on 07 December 2022
The following week "The Orkney Herald" reported that the whales had been sold in two lots to Mr Noble of the Highland Fish, Oil and Guano Company Limited of Montrose, and were to be taken to their works in Shetland to be converted to oil and manure. The 43 captured on the Saturday went for £45 10s, and the 74 on Monday for £70. The Herald reported that there were serious differences as to how the proceeds would be divided and the matter was likely to end up in the Sheriff Court. I found no subsequent report of court proceedings however, so agreement may have been reached rather than have the proceeds used up in legal expenses.
Added by Paul Sutherland on 28 December 2022
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