FORT PIERCE, Fla.— Area officials scrambled Friday afternoon to help a beached pygmy sperm whale near Walton Rocks but their efforts could not save the animal’s life.
Steve McCulloch, the founder and director of marine mammal research at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University, confirmed the whale had been euthanized around 6:40 p.m. Friday.
McCulloch said the male whale was found at about 1:30 p.m. Around 4 p.m., a group of officials from Harbor Branch, St. Lucie County Ocean Rescue, St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission lifted the whale into a van. The whale was transported to Harbor Branch where a clinical veterinarian was expected to see the animal.
McCulloch had not expected the whale to recover earlier in the afternoon. He said these type of whales typically do not recover well. The species is the second-most beached animal on the East Coast of Florida to the bottleneck dolphins, he said.
“Most frequently, these whales are euthanized,” McCulloch said.
Andrew Ritchie, the marine safety coordinator with St. Lucie County Ocean Rescue said it looked as if the whale had been caught on the reefs during low tide because of cuts along its body. McCulloch said a necropsy would be done to determine the cause of death as well as other types of information. Blood samples were taken while the whale was alive which could help scientists learn about the whales.
The whale was between 10- and 11-feet long. Typically, whales become beached because of sickness or injury, McCulloch said.
Ryan Iannuzzi, a 33-year old Port St. Lucie resident, was walking on the beach with his girlfriend, Cynthia Soto, when they spotted rescuers working to help the whale.
“At first, it was pretty upsetting,” he said.
Iannuzzi and Soto began pouring water on the whale and Soto took photos on behalf of Harbor Branch.
“It was satisfying to help out,” Iannuzzi said.
Reported by: Eric Pfahler/Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers
Copyright 2010 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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