ATTEMPTS are being made to rescue a sperm whale that is believed to have become tangled in rope in one of Scotland's deepest lochs.

The 9m-long animal was spotted in distress in Loch Eriboll, near Durness, Sutherland.

Coastguard and British Divers Marine Life Rescue Team volunteers have been monitoring the whale and are expected to attempt to free the mammal.

The whale had been seen earlier swimming slowly in the loch.

Volunteeers from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue Team (BDMLR) say they are woking closely with the Scottish SPCA and HM Coastguard to monitor and assess the whale.

"We have specialist disentanglement equipment ready to use should it be confirmed that the whale is in some way caught in lines preventing it leaving the loch," said the BDMLR which said the animal could also be ill or injured.

The team, had a mechanical problem with its vehicle while travelling to the loch and had plans to assess the whale at first light on Friday.

A spokesperson for Shetland Coastguard, which is co-ordinating the operation, said: “The whale is less than 100 metres from the shore. It is very close to the mouth of the loch and we are concerned it will come ashore. It appears to be entangled and in distress so we would ask people to stay away from the scene so as not cause any more distress to the animal.”

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has asked members of the public to take care along the rugged coastline if they are trying to find a vantage point to see the whale, and told people to leave the rescue effort “to the experts”.

The Scottish SPCA said it had an inspector on site to monitor the whale and would return to assess the situation at first light on Friday.

In 2016, members of BDMLR were able to free a humpback whale from the same loch after it became tangled in creels used to catch prawns.

The loch is 9.9 miles long and has been used for centuries as a deep water anchorage as it is safe from the often stormy seas of Cape Wrath and the Pentland Firth. It is named after the village of Eriboll on its eastern shore.