More than 50 pilot whales have died after they were washed up on a Scottish beach.
Marine rescuers raced to the scene at Traigh Mhor in North Tolsta, on the Isle of Lewis, on Sunday morning after reports that dozens of the mammals appeared trapped and unable to get back out to sea.
But it soon turned out that only 15 of the small pilot whales were still alive.
British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) tried to refloat two of the more active whales that were still low down in the water on the outgoing tide and one got away.
However, the other subsequently restranded and died later on, as did three others.
At around 3.30pm it was decided that the remaining whales should be put down on the grounds it would be more humane.
The cause of the stranding is not known, but it is thought the pod may have followed one of the females. Pilot whales grow to about 4-6 metres in length and live for between 40 and 60 years.
The species is known for mass stranding.
A statement from the BDMLR charity said: “One of the dead whales appeared to have had a vaginal prolapse – so it’s currently suspected that the whole pod stranded due to one female giving birth.
“Pilot whales are notorious for their strong social bonds, so often when one whale gets into difficulty and strands, the rest follow.”
The Coastguard, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, police and Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme (SMASS) were also on the beach on Sunday.
Western Isles Council said it had officers at the scene.
BDMLR added: “At about 3.30pm, the local vet along with the Coastguard, fire and rescue, and a forensics vet came to the conclusion that the shallow beach and rough wave conditions made it too unsafe to refloat the remaining animals.
“Considering how long the pilot whales had been out of the water, in addition to the poor conditions, it was decided that they should be euthanised on welfare grounds.
“We’d like to extend our thanks to the Lewis community, Stornoway Coastguard, police, Stornoway and Shawbost Fire and Rescue, SMASS, SSPCA, Civil Air Support, CalMac and of course our dedicated team of medics who all came together in their efforts to rescue these whales.
“A sad outcome for this pod and obviously not the outcome we were all hoping for.”
SMASS will now carry out post-mortem examinations on the whales to investigate why they stranded.