Scientists Conduct Necropsy on Beached Sperm Whale in Florida
By Julie S | Nov 03, 2013 02:40 PM EST
Scientists conducted a necropsy on the remains of a beached sperm whale in Florida Friday. The mammal was found struggling to stay alive at the shallow waters north of St. Pete Beach. Showing a slim chance of survival, the emaciated whale was later on sedated and euthanized by scientists.
The 32-foot adolescent mammoth whale, whose size is comparable to that of a school bus with a weight that would most likely tip the scale at 10 tons, had to be towed the from Madeira Beach to Fort de Soto Park just by the entrance to Tampa Bay. Soon after, marine scientists conducted an animal autopsy to find out what could have caused the animal’s sickness. The report is not yet released at the moment.
Scientists said that the male whale, which normally thrives deep in the Gulf of Mexico, was obviously very sick and was too large to be taken to an animal center to receive medical care. If people had opted to push the whale back to the sea, biologists believe he would just find another place to beach himself.
"He didn't get to have a long and healthy life, which is quite a shame," Mike Walsh, co-director of the Aquatic Animal Health program at the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine, told Tampa Tribune. The maximum known life span of a male sperm whale is 77 years.
According to the NOAA Fisheries website, sperm whales are the largest among all toothed whales. Males are usually larger than females and can grow as long as 52 feet weighing 45 tons. Male sperm whales can be distinguished from females by its extremely large head which takes up to 35 percent of its body length.
The male sperm whale found Thursday was not the first beaching in Fla. In September, 17 short-finned pilot whales got stranded and died in Florida Beach. Their necropsy report revealed that these animals died of brain parasite infestation.