Pygmy Sperm Whale Found Beached over Memorial Weekend - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Pygmy Sperm Whale Found Beached over Memorial Weekend

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(Photo: MERR Institute) (Photo: MERR Institute)

DEWEY BEACH, Del.- A deceased pygmy sperm whale was found over Memorial Day weekend, beached between Conquest Road and the Life Saving Station in Dewey Beach.

Delaware State Park rangers said they notified the Marine Education Research and Rehabilitation Institute on Sunday morning. The MERR Institute then dispatched a number of volunteers to guard the animal, inform the public and perform a necropsy to determine the cause of death.

The 10-foot, 800-pound whale was a young adult male with no visible wounds, according to MERR Executive Director Suzanne Thurman.

“He appeared to be a fairly robust animal with what looked like might have been a previous entanglement around his tail,” Thurman said. “He did have a fairly heavy parasite load in his GI tract, which is indicative of poor health.”

Officials said the pygmy sperm whale is one of three species of toothed whale in the sperm whale family, and can be found throughout tropical and temperate waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Ocean. They do not grow much larger than many species of dolphin.

A group of 10 MERR volunteers worked for eight hours on Monday performing a necropsy amidst the vacationing crowds during the busy Memorial Day holiday.

“When we send the samples to the labs, it might yield some more definitive information as to the cause of the whale’s death,” Thurman said.

Anyone coming in contact with a stranded marine mammal or sea turtle should call the MERR hotline at (302) 228-5029.

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