A beached whale, sickened and stuck on Florida's coastline in low tide, had to be euthanized Thursday, as marine biologists came to the difficult realization that they would not be able to save the 35-foot sperm whale, reports CNN on Oct. 31.
Hundreds of beachgoers and concerned residents gathered at Madeira Beach in Tampa to observe officials from the University of Miami care for the beached sperm whale, which are rarely seen this close to shore unless ill or hurt.
Those who attended to the whale, an adult male thought to be the equivalent age of a teenager, had to wait until the tide went out before they could assess the whale's health.
Biologists administered a strong sedative first, then used an enormous needle – 6-foot in length – to inject the 15-ton mammal with a drug that would stop its heart from beating.
Speaking of the needle, Erin Fougeres, a marine mammal biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said, “Although it looks large and scary, it is a very humane thing to do.”
The whale was roped up and transported by water to a nearby oceanic facility where a necropsy will be performed.
“They're so large, you can't transport it,” Fougeres said. “They live their entire lives in the ocean; they're not used to feeling the weight of their own bodies. So when they land on the beach, just the weight of their body can kind of crush their organs. So moving it, it's just not really a humane thing to do even if there was a way to do it.”