Beached whale euthanized

By Juan Carlos Fanjul - bio | email

FORT PIERCE, FL(WFLX)--Veterinarians at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute examined an 11-foot long pygmy sperm whale in complete shock and breathing it's last gasps of air.

It was found Friday afternoon on Walton Rocks Beach on Hutchinson Island.

"First responders were stabilizing the animal, keeping it cool and shaded with water being poured over it," said Steve McCulloch of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.

When the vets got there, they immediately rushed it to Harbor Branch, a research institute in Fort Pierce.

"The animal was so emaciated by the time it got here, humanely euthanizing was the best thing for this animal," said Dr. Juli Goldstein.

According to McCulloch. "the pigmy sperm whale is the second most stranded mammal in the eastern seaboard next to bottle nosed dolphins."

Why this one beached itself is a mystery.

But its death is not a total loss. It will be used for research.

Recently scientists made a startling discovery: this particular type of whale suffers from heart disease.

While this sea mammal didn't make it, vets are hopeful studying it will provide clues that could help the species.

"Why are they getting cardiac disease? We'll look at it at the post mortem exam," said Dr. Goldstein.