2 baby sperm whales dead after beaching themselves on Florida’s East Coast; “Infections and toxins are going to be the big killers of these animals” says pathologist (VIDEO/PHOTOS)


Whales wash ashore near Palm Beach and Jacksonville on the night of June 23

Baby Whale Beaches Self In Fernandina, News Channel 4 Jacksonville, June 24, 2010:

WTLV

A 12-foot-long baby whale believed to be a pygmy sperm whale beached itself at Fernandina Beach Wednesday evening.

Beachgoers helped get it into deeper water, but it beached again, wildlife officials said.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials removed the whale, intending to take it to a rehab center to be nursed back to health, but it died.

Dead Pygmy Sperm Whale Washes Ashore On Beach, WPBF Channel 25 West Palm Beach, June 25, 2010:

WPBF

Officials with the Florida Oceanographic Society and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were notified of the dead whale [at Tiger Shores in Jensen Beach] and examined the 9-foot whale's carcass. ...

The whale's carcass was taken to the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, where a necropsy will be performed to determine a cause of death.

Beached whale dies, is then brought to university for tests, Gainesville Sun, June 25, 2010:

University of Florida veterinarians are working to solve the mystery of why a Pygmy sperm whale stranded itself on Fernandina Beach.

The 12-foot-long, 950-pound whale was brought Thursday morning to the UF College of Veterinary Medicine.

WJXT

It washed up the previous night on Fernandina Beach and died en route to the Jacksonville Zoo. ...

UF veterinary pathologists will be conducting a necropsy to determine the exact reason.

"Infections and toxins are going to be the big killers of these animals," [Dr. Michael] Walsh said.

Beachgoers saw the whale in shallow waters about 7 p.m. Wednesday before it washed up onshore.

The beachgoers tried unsuccessfully three or four times to get it back into the water, said Ryan Berger, a biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

He arrived at the scene around 10 p.m. and loaded the animal into a truck for transport to the zoo.

He said the species lives in deep offshore waters and is difficult to raise in captivity, so the plan was to euthanize the whale there. But the animal died on the way, so it was brought to UF for a necropsy.

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