Sperm whale washes ashore on Florida beach
Two dwarf sperm whales, an adult and a calf, washed up on the shore of Key Biscayne on Friday morning.
Rescuers found the calf dead. The adult whale appeared very thin and was euthanized by a veterinarian, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA’s Marine Animal Rescue Society responded to the area.
A veterinary pathologist will perform a necropsy on both animals to determine the cause of illness and death, NOAA said in a statement.
The adult, a female, was lactating and had recently given birth. But a genetic test will need to be conducted to confirm the calf was her daughter, a NOAA spokesperson said.
Allison Garrett said in an email that the whales were found about 8:30 a.m. behind a residential area near Crandon Boulevard. The animals were taken to a NOAA facility on Virginia Key for the necropsy. Results can take up to two months, she said.
Dwarf sperm whales live in “temperate and tropical seas around the world,” according to NOAA, but in the United States, they tend to reside in the waters near Hawaii, the Pacific Northwest and California, the western North Atlantic, and the northern Gulf of Mexico.
“They may be more common off the southeastern coast, as more strandings have happened in this area,” the federal agency says on its website.
Adults can reach lengths of up to about 9 feet and weigh in at between 300 and 600 pounds, according to NOAA. Calves are about 3 feet long and weigh 30 pounds at birth.
If you encounter a stranded marine animal, call 877-WHALE HELP. NOAA advises the public not to push live animals back into the water, as it can delay treatment and examination.