Whale in distress has died

HOBE SOUND, Fla. - Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission officers and biologists are upset after efforts to save a pygmy sperm whale failed Wednesday. Someone called Jupiter Island police when they spotted the mammal Wednesday morning after it beached itself on shore in Hobe Sound. A short time later, Jupiter Island Public Safety, Martin County Sheriff's Office and Martin County Fire Rescue managed to tow the animal back into the water, away from the rough surf.

John Cassady, a researcher with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, said while everyone had the best of intentions, the whale should have never been moved.

"This was a situation where had that animal had been left alone on the beach, we would have gotten to that animal hours ago," he said.

The FWC and biologists from Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute launched a boat from Burt Reynolds Park in Jupiter Wednesday afternoon to harness the whale in a stretcher alongside the boat to bring it ashore for help. Unfortunately, by then it was too late. The whale died before they could make it back to the park.

Cassady said they may not have been able to prevent the whale's death, but it could have been saved from hours of suffering.

"Once they get into a condition like that, they're easy prey for sharks," he said. "This time of year, there are a lot of bait fish which attract a lot of sharks. He was in a bad place in very bad condition."

"It's just a shame we couldn't have gotten to this animal a little sooner," said veterinarian Dr. Glenn Gillard.

Dr. Gilliard couldn't help him and couldn't even get a blood sample from the now deceased whale, that had been bitten by sharks several times.

"The predators got to him, banged him around," he said. "We thought he was going to be okay, but unfortunately, he didn't make it."

If you see an animal in distress, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-3922.

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