Jun 16, 2019 | Updated: 11:54 AM EDT

Coast To Coast—Sperm Whale Deaths Rock Conservation News This Week

Apr 15, 2015 08:27 PM EDT


From coast to coast across the United States, news this week of three sperm whales in particular has rocked the conservation community, as the loss of three endangered individuals raises questions about the species' status in the wild.

Earlier this week two sperm whales were put down by government officials with a local fish an wildlife agency in Florida, after a shark attack resulted in the beaching of a mother whale and a newborn neonate calf. Though the calf did not sustain significant injuries, in the absence of its mother the chances of survival are slim to none in such cases, so officials opted instead to put the whales down in the interest of ending their suffering from the stressful situation.

Now, today on the Pacific coast, marine biologists with the Marine Mammal Center of the California Academy of Sciences have retrieved the carcass of a sperm whale washed ashore on Pacifica Beach, Tuesday April 14, and have planned a necropsy for later this afternoon to determine the cause of death as a finding like this is quite rare. Discovered originally at Mori Point on the Pacific Beach coast, the sperm whale was dead when biologists arrived on the scene, however, while the endangered species are found off of the California coast year-round the beaching event is one that is not often seen.

Over the past four decades, since the Marine Mammal Center was established, only 17 stranded sperm whales have been founded stranded according to spokesperson Laura Sherr, who highlighted the significant rarity of the find. The last sperm whale discovered in the area was found at Point Reyes in 2008, where a necropsy revealed that the whale died after eating 450 pounds of trash.

The center hopes to discovery what may have caused the beaching and death of the recent sperm whale, and are hopeful that a necropsy will give them better insight into the health of the whale before its death. Though it is too soon to determine exactly what caused the death of whale, local researchers say that it must have been circumstances far out of the ordinary to drive such a deep-diving species from its open-ocean habitat to the shores. 

More news to come.

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