Almost 30 whales have been washed ashore near to a Scottish fishing town.
Eighteen pilot whales are believed to have died on a beach near Anstruther in Fife, while another ten - including three pups - were stranded on the shore.
The whales became stranded early on Sunday morning, with Fife Coastguard being called to the incident just after 7am.
The surviving animals were being cared for by animal welfare workers, who hoped that the afternoon's high tide would carry them back out to sea.
The tide came in at 4.23pm on Sunday, and the whales were kept wet until then by more than 30 volunteers from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR). Local vets and the Scottish SPCA were also in attendance.
Around 4.30pm, ten of the whales were re-floated in the water, but two became stranded again.
A spokeswoman from the BDMLR said they were "hopeful" for the eight pilot whales that are still in the water and would monitor them for the next 24 hours.
Fears have also been raised about another 24 pilot whales which are in shallow water three miles along the coast at Cellardyke.
Experts believe the whales might have come ashore in a group because of their social behaviour.
Pilot whales will not leave a wounded or sick member of their school, and it is thought that the animals might have followed one such whale onto the shore and become stranded.
A spokeswoman for the Fife Coastguard said: "It is a very rare occurrence in Scotland and very sad.
"The usual scenario would be that the whale that is leading the group has become ill, or has lost its way, and gets beached and the rest will follow on. Although we do not know for sure if that is what has happened.
"Unfortunately 17 whales have already died. Of the ones that are alive we will try to re-float them.
"We hope at high tide this afternoon that we will be able to help them. But we need to keep their blowholes upright until then."
The spokeswoman urged members of the public to stay away from the scene, saying there were enough rescue workers currently on the beach and the sight could prove distressing.
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