A rescue operation is underway to move a whale pod before a major military exercise begins in Scotland's waters.

Rescuers are working today to move a pod of northern bottlenose whales back out to sea from their current position in Loch Long. 

The British Divers Marine Life Rescue Medics (BDMLR) have monitored the pod for the last month in and around the River Clyde.

A pair of whales first seen in Loch Goil were then spotted at the mouth of the Clyde near Millport on the Isle of Cumbrae.

READ MORE: Watch: French warship docks in River Clyde ahead of major military exercise

Since then five whales have been spotted in separate locations in Loch Long, with some entering smaller lochs nearby.

Now, it's a race to move the whales before the beginning of Exercise Joint Warrior, a major military effort due to take place over the next few weeks.

Eleven nations are to take part in Joint Warrior, one of the largest military exercises of its kind in Europe, between October 4-15.

It will see 28 warships, two submarines, 81 aircraft and more than 6000 military personnel attend military ranges across the country, and to maritime exercise areas off the East, West and North Coasts of Scotland.

Two warships have already docked in the River Clyde, with six more due to arrive in King George's Docks in the next few days.

There are concerns that, because whales are particularly sensitive to underwater sounds, they could be disturbed by the military exercise.

READ MORE: Warships to dock in River Clyde next week as part of largest military exercise in Europe

The rescuers hope to herd the animals out to sea using a number of boats on Thursday.

A spokesman for BDMLR said: “This will be a very carefully planned operation carried out under our licence from NatureScot for exactly this type of situation where we need to try to move free swimming cetaceans to safety.

“This of course does come with risks of its own and there is no guarantee it will be successful given the depth of water and distance that needs to be covered, so will be undertaken with as much care as possible.

“We will of course reassess our actions and options if the whales decide that they will not go.

“We are very grateful for all of the support the team has had from the local residents and boat operators who have offered their assistance with this, as well as the MoD, who will be joining the BDMLR rescue boat coming in from Fife to carry out this operation.

“All we can do now is wish everyone involved the very best and hope for a positive outcome.”

Northern bottlenose whales are a deep-diving species of cetacean normally found off the edge of the continental shelf to the west of the UK and Ireland.