Sperm whale dies off South Florida coast
POMPANO BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) -- Beachgoers were in amazement on shore after an encounter with a giant whale.
It was gasping for air. "It was still alive when we got here," said Marine Mammal Scientist Stefan Harzen.
The sperm whale was too weak to do much more than just float with the waves. "It was just bobbing up an down," said Ken Smith. "Without binoculars, you couldn't tell what it was doing. It was just in the water floating."
Before marine biologists and a Broward Sheriff's Office boat showed up to try and rescue it, a woman took pictures from her beachfront balcony, tweeted them and said two swimmers were attempting to ride the dying whale. Officials said that would be a federal offense. Now they are investigating.
"It seems to be a 30-foot whale," said Harzen, "female, with some lacerations. We're not exactly sure whether these are significant enough injuries or not. Maybe it's fallen ill due to some reasons we can not determine."
"The environment is so dirty," said Christina Coneiglio, "and when the whales go and eat all of those plastics and bottles and things that we throw in the water or in the sea, they get sick."
Either way, sick or badly injured, the whale came close to the coast for some reason. "I'm on the beach a lot," said Smith, "and I've never seen a whale this close to the shore."
Beachgoers answered that cry. "I guess everybody's concerned about the health of the whale," said an onlooker, "and everybody's trying to save it."
For hours, the massive female Sperm Whale fought the current along side Pompano Beach. Volunteer rescuers jumped in to try and save it. "They were trying to keep the boats behind it," said Smith, "so it didn't scare it, and then researchers were in the water with it. They did guide it out passed the wave."
But she was too far gone and died even with all the help. Marine animal rescuers pushed the lifeless Sperm Whale back out to sea.
A marine biologist noted that it is always best to let the deceased whale go out to sea. If the current washes it back to shore, then they will come and collect it, figure out what may have killed it and dispose of it. Officials are also investigating if the swimmers had anything to do with the whale dying.
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