A SEARCH is continuing for three whales who were stranded for the second time this week off West Fife.

A complex rescue operation involving the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), Coastguards, Fire and Rescue, Special Operation Response Team and Network Rail took place last night after the mammals were found on mud flats at Torryburn yesterday afternoon.

Efforts were made to get the whales, two males and one female, upright into a more comfortable position however this proved difficult as they kept sliding back over again as soon as they were moved.

A spokesperson for BDMLR said: "The rescue team carried out what first aid they were able to do given the circumstances they were faced with, while a veterinarian also attended the scene to assist and relayed information back to our colleagues at the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme.

"With the tide not due back in until 2am in the morning, whale rescue pontoon sets from around Scotland were organised and sent down to the site in case a refloat attempt was viable later.

"Hours later and in darkness, the exhausted team were still out there trying their hardest to keep the whales comfortable until the incoming tide made it too dangerous to remain.

"At midnight, the team had to withdraw for their own safety while the whales, all still alive, refloated again on the high tide. Medics are currently back out on the coast this morning searching for them again.

"In the meantime we would like to express our heartfelt thanks to our volunteers, Coastguard, Fire and Rescue Service, Special Operations Response Team and Network Rail who were out on site in cold, awful conditions for many hours, and it was mentioned during the debrief afterwards that communication between all the agencies involved had been excellent in spite of the incredibly difficult scenario."

As reported by the Press this week, five whales got into difficulties near Culross on Tuesday morning when around 30 volunteers from the BDMLR and the coastguards rushed to help.

They were able to refloat themselves when the tide rose however experts were unable to check them for injuries and body condition.