Madeira Beach residents awoke Thursday morning to the sight of a whale in shallow water off the beach at 132nd Avenue. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation officials on the scene said the 30- to 35-foot sperm whale was near death and would be put down. FWC officials were waiting for the tide to go out further before taking action.
MADEIRA BEACH – Officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Thursday that a beached sperm whale off 132nd Avenue in Madeira Beach would be euthanized and later examined by marine biologists.
The whale, which was estimated at 30 to 35 feet in length, was discovered shortly after sunrise by beach residents who quickly called authorities.
FWC officials said the whale was almost dead and severely emaciated.
FWC officials were waiting for the tide to go out before sending in veterinarians to inject drugs to put the animal down.
Kevin Baxter, a spokesperson for the FWC, said after the whale's death, its carcass would be dragged down to a location on the beach at Fort De Soto Park where a necropsy would take place. Officials from FWC, the University of Florida and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are expected to participate.
According to one FWC officer, the beached whale was the first along the Pinellas beaches since 2009 when another was discovered slightly north of Thursday’s sighting.
Sperm whales are the largest member of the toothed whale Family, Odontoceti, according to information on myfwc.com. Sperm whales can be distinguished from other whale species by their enormous head, which can take up to 35 percent of their body. Their brain is the largest of any animal.