Sperm whale beached off coast of Florida confirmed dead

By Chris Benson

March 11 (UPI) -- A sperm whale that had been beached off the coast of Florida died Monday, officials said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Chief of Marine Mammal Branch, Laura Engleby, said during a Monday news conference that the 70,000-pound sea creature stranded near Venice, Fla., had died overnight.


Engleby added how officials are waiting for equipment to arrive to help move the remains off the beach.

"It sort of takes a village really to do an effort like this and we have a multi-agency team that set up everything and is ready to go," she said, adding how the whale's body is tied and ready to be removed once equipment arrived.

The cause of death for the 44-foot emaciated male whale had not yet been confirmed, according to NBC 2 in Florida.

Experts will soon "systematically go through every part of the whale" to determine the cause of death but they "might not know for months," Engelby said.

She said the sperm whale's necropsy will likely "take pretty much all day" because teams "want to be thorough."

The NOAA official said the agency finds an average of 2 stranded sperm whales a year.


"It does happen," she said while noting the last time a sperm whale came up beached was likely 2008.

The city of Venice, Fla., said Monday morning on X that along with the local police department, the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office had been assisting staff from the Mote Marine Laboratory to remove the whale off the beach approximately 50 yards out from the Service Club Park, and advised citizens to stay clear of the area.

On Sunday, city officials said on Facebook that "it appears this will likely be a recovery effort as nature takes its course."

According to Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the endangered sperm whale "have faced catastrophic population declines due to harvesting."

The banning of sperm whale hunting dates back as far as 1981 when the International Whaling Commission approved a "compromise plan" which banned commercial killing of sperm whales in most of the world's oceans.

But this is the second time in more than a year that a whale has beached itself in Florida.

Last year in January, two different whales -- an orca and a sperm whale -- both were discovered dead along the coast of Oregon and Florida with days of one other in what was called a "extremely rare" event along Florida's coastline.


That was followed months later in July 2023 when 43 beached pilot whales were euthanized in Australia after a failed attempt to prevent them from getting beached.

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