Beached whale in Delray Beach euthanized

An injured 10 foot male pygmy sperm whale beached itself on Delray Beach Wednesday morning.

The mammal came ashore in the 300 block of North Ocean Boulevard around 9 a.m. It may have been separated from a larger pod.

The mammal weighed between 800 and 900 pounds and was emaciated and had a lot of parasites and was very sick, according to Alessandra Medri, Senior Environmental Analyst for Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management Department.

After it washed ashore, it didn't take long before it attracted a crowd.

"Just concern. We love whales," said Craig Mihalko. "You are always concerned when you see one come up on the beach." He added,  "I think there's just a lot of concerned people. I think that's what attracts people over here is the concern for the animal."

Veterinarians told onlookers that they had to euthanize the sick whale.

"The public worries why whales can't always be saved," said Medri. "In cases of this species, Kogia pygmy sperm whales, these are pelagic animals that are suited to extreme ocean depths. Once they strand, it's very hard to even take them to rehab because they just don't do well there. So when they strand, usually they are sick, or injured. Survival rates are very low because of their biology and physiology, they are meant to live in the extremes of 1000-1300 feet deep," Medri said in a statement.

Six whales have come ashore in Palm Beach County this year, according to NOAA. This is the highest number since 2003. Two others washed ashore in Jensen Beach in March.

A necropsy will be performed to determine what caused the whale to beach itself.

"It is important for the public to understand that when an animal strands itself, do not push the animal back into the water," said Medri. "The reason why the animal strands itself, is because it's very likely that it is sick. Before it gets pushed back, it needs to be fully evaluated by a marine mammal vet. These animals can carry a lot of diseases that can be transmitted to humans, so we do not recommend the public touch the animal."

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