Water-Related News

Euthanized sperm whale had severe infection

By Bob McClure

MADEIRA BEACH – Officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the University of Florida and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration performed a necropsy Nov. 1 on a 32-foot sperm whale that beached itself in shallow water off Madeira Beach a day earlier.

The 5-ton, female whale was euthanized Oct. 31 and later towed to a remote spot at Fort De Soto beach where the necropsy took place. The remains were buried nearby.

There were no firm results but officials said the whale had a long-term illness. Scientists found signs of a severe infection that they said the whale had for months.

No cause for the infection or the type of infection has been determined.

The whale was discovered shortly after sunrise Oct. 31 along a stretch of beach at 132nd Avenue in Madeira Beach.

Shortly thereafter, the sighting attracted large numbers of curious spectators, media, fire fighters and law enforcement and FWC officials.

FWC officials said the whale was almost dead and severely emaciated. Its tail flipped in the air periodically before University of Florida veterinarians sedated the animal and later injected drugs to euthanize it.

According to an FWC officer, the beached whale was the first along the Pinellas beaches since 2009 when another was discovered slightly north of Thursday’s sighting.