Dead sperm whale hauled out to sea
DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) -- A dead sperm whale was pulled back out to sea for a natural burial after it washed ashore in South Florida Monday morning.
Marine experts had hoped to examine the 40-foot whale to learn something from it. However, Deerfield Beach's Mayor Peggy Noland said the scene would be too gruesome. "This is unbelievable. When they said there was a whale, I assumed 15 feet," said Noland. "But when I came out here and saw the enormity, it has to be 35 or 40 feet long."
The whale was first spotted over the weekend along the surf in Pompano Beach. Investigators are looking into the possibility that people harassed the whale before it died. People snapped photos of swimmers riding the whale, which would be a federal offense, as the whale is an endangered species.
NOAA Marina Mammal Stranding Coordinator Liz Stratton said of the female whale, "She's skinny. She doesn't have as much blubber, body fat, as she should. You can see her ribs through her skin. That's not a natural state for a healthy sperm whale. So we can already tell there is something off kilter about this. What that cause might be, at this point, we can't speculate.
When marine biologists responded, the whale was already dead. Crews then had to figure out how to move the whale. "It's a big animal. They have very large skulls, and they are very heavy so moving these animals is definitely a challenge," said Stratton.
"It's probably sick, and it's very sad," said Donna Batler who lives nearby.
Government scientists took specimens from the whale and hope to determine how it died.
(Copyright 2012 by Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)