Photo courtesy of FLORIDA FISH AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION COMMISSION
Biologists from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute examine the carcass of a sperm whale at Fort DeSoto Park on Tuesday.
ST. PETE BEACH – Biologists from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute said the sperm whale that was euthanized on New Year’s Day was in bad health.
Preliminary findings show that the whale was emaciated and suffered from chronic illness, the FWRI said in a press release on Thursday.
Pending test results may determine specifics of the disease, officials said.
Biologists said the 30-foot whale was most likely an older female.
The sperm whale was spotted offshore on Sunday and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission staff tried unsuccessfully for two days to get the animal to return to deeper water before making the decision to put it to sleep.
The carcass was hauled onto the beach at Fort DeSoto Beach, where biologists could examine it to determine why the sperm whale had come so close to shore.
Sperm whales are present year-round in deep water areas of the Gulf of Mexico, the FWC said. Typically, healthy sperm whales are not found near shore. In the past ten years, three other sperm whales stranded themselves on Florida’s west coast.