POLICE OFFICERS were called in to help escort a pod of whales away from the shoreline.
A specialist marine unit and helicopter from Essex Police were alerted to concerns the 40 pilot whales might become stranded on beaches or sandbanks after being spotted close to shore.
Members of the charity, British Divers Marine Life Rescue, called police and coastguard when the whales were close to shallow water at St Lawrence Bay. The whales were then shepherded to safer waters and their movements were monitored during Wednesday.
Pc Simon Lofting, from the marine unit, said: “It was certainly one of our more unusual operations and we all worked closely to ensure that the whales were not stranded in shallow water while chasing shoals of herrings.”
The marine unit used a high speed boat to reach the scene and worked with local vessels to turn the pod back towards the open sea. At one point, the police helicopter descended to about 200ft to “flag down” a fishing boat that was heading straight for the whales, which were believed to be following and eating shoals of herring.