Fears for orca population after killer whale found dead on Tiree
The orca, known as Lulu, was one of just nine in Scotland's western waters.
One of the few remaining West Coast orcas has been found dead on Tiree in the Inner Hebrides.
The killer whale, known to researchers as Lulu, was discovered beached on the island on January 3.
Lulu was one of a pod of orcas that patrol the waters around the Hebrides and eastern Irish coast. Scientists now believe there might be just eight animals remaining in the pod, the only resident orca community in British waters.
The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust said on Facebook: "We have some sad news to report: one of the West Coast community of killer whales known as Lulu was found dead yesterday on Tiree. Dr Andy Foote, a killer whale specialist, confirmed the photo-id match which was made using the distinctive eye and saddle patches which are unique to individuals.
"It is particularly sad to know that another one of these killer whales, unique to the British and Irish Isles has died. There may be as few as eight individuals remaining in this population."
No calves have been born since researchers first began tracking the West Coast orcas in the 1980s, with some biologists claiming pollution in the water has led to high rates of infant mortality.
The Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme is now hoping to conduct an examination to discover the cause of Lulu's death.