orca death
Gale force winds on the Shetland Islands earlier this month left a juvenile orca stranded on a grassy field near Eshaness on the west coast. Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary

A killer whale is believed to have died after being thrown 25 metres inland by the force of Storm Caroline earlier this month.

Orcas are very rare in Scotland with a small native population that can be spotted near the west coast of the Shetland Islands.

Tragically the population was reduced earlier this month when a young male was found on a grassy shoreline close to Eshaness after gale force winds.

The three-metre long calf, believed to be around four years old, was likely separated from its mother and pod by the weather before being thrown far inland by the strong waves and winds.

A post-mortem conducted by Andrew Brownlow from Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme (SMAS) concluded the young juvenile was alive before the stranding.

A Facebook post by Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary said the orca was "alive, healthy and had recently consumed a seal when it stranded in the sheltered bay at Hamnavoe".

It read: "Such a sad end for one of the young orcas that have been inspiring whale watchers throughout these islands for the past couple of years."

The orca stranding is especially tragic because young killer wales are extremely rare in northern Europe, the sanctuary said in an earlier post.

A walker found the carcass after the huge winds battered the islands and it becomes the second dead whale fund on the islands after a female was discovered on the uninhabited isle of Linga in January.

It is believed the recent orca death may have been due to dehydration or he may have been crushed by his own body weight once out of the water.

The autopsy of the animal was posted to Facebook users expressed their dismay, Annie Davidson wrote: "Not another! Desperately tragic to lose another member of the pod, especially a youngster."

While Charlee Butler added: "How awful to lose such a beautiful creature so young."

In May this year it was revealed that a female killer whale named Lulu died with the highest level of a class of banned chemicals in her blubber of any animal ever reported in the UK.

Lulu, who was found on the Isle of Tiree in the Hebrides, Scotland, had 957 mg of the toxic manmade compound polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) per kg, more than 100 times the estimated safe limit.