NOAA: Beached whale did not show signs of shark attack - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

NOAA: Beached whale did not show signs of shark attack


New video showed a beached whale on Hilton Head Island over the weekend. Veterinarians determined the whale had to be euthanized.

Initial information said the whale might have been attacked by a shark before beaching, but NOAA Fisheries said there were no signs of a shark attack, just a whale in very poor physical condition.

The nine foot long, 800 pound pygmy sperm whale came ashore, beaching itself and causing a stir on Hilton Head Island on Saturday.

"I thought they were doing some sort of life guard demonstration," said Margret Vibbert. "So I came down and saw this whale, and they were pouring water all over it to try to keep it going."

According to Shore Beach Services, a life guard noticed the whale in distress as it moved closer to the beach.

"It seemed to be lethargic," said Shore Beach Services General Manager Alan Reece. "It wasn't moving quick, just kind of slowly floundering in the shallow water. The whale washed onto the beach. It appeared to be breathing, but it appeared to be in a lot of distress. The whale appeared to be very malnourished, so we made contact with the authorities to get some direction on what was to be done with the whale at that time."

Shore Beach Service called a veterinarian and NOAA, who determined the whale was in extremely poor physical condition, appeared to be extremely underweight and malnourished.

While the whale appeared to be bleeding in some pictures, NOAA biologists said they whale showed no signs of a shark attack or any external trauma. They said the red color is actually ink released by the whale itself as a sign of distress.

The vet determined the whale needed to be euthanized, and NOAA said they are sending off samples to determine exactly what happened. Those results will not be ready for several weeks.

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