VERO BEACH, Fla. - It was a sad discovery on Vero Beach.
A pygmy sperm whale stranded itself around four o'clock Tuesday afternoon in the shallow waters of the beach.
Pygmy whales often have cardiac problems that are common to humans.
When researchers from the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Ft. Pierce start their necropsy on Wednesday, they'll begin with the animal's blood and central organs.
The whale was ten feet long and 760-pounds. Ordinarily, these mammals swim in waters between 3,000 and 5,000 feet deep.
Pygmy whales can swim up to thirty miles an hour, but they're also the type of whale that is the second most common one to find itself beached.
Scientists say the whale found Tuesday died as it was being transported from the ocean to the Harbor Branch research lab. They're going to spend lots of time looking into why it had hypo-cardiomyopathy, a heart disease that's also found in humans.
"It's a moment in time that we capture this animal's life history, determine a cause of death, and work to preserve and conserve our ocean's vital resources," said Steve McColloch, the program director at Harbor Branch's marine rescue division. "This is literally a treasure trove of scientific information."
Scientists say that incidents of whales beaching themselves have actually decreased in the last decade; A trend they hope continues.
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