Sunday, November 3, 2013

Beached Whale in Madeira Beach


On October 1st, as soon as the news spread about the beached whale here in Florida, I decided we needed to go see it. It wasn't too far away, and I have always had a fascination about these huge creatures, but have never seen one in real life.

I talked three kids into coming with me, and off we went. We parked at John's Pass, and walked about five minutes on the beach. It wasn't hard to find the whale, there were huge crowds gathered on the beach, watching and waiting to see what would happen.


This was our first sight. A huge whale, just laying there, kind of sideways in the shallow weather. Moving slowly.

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Every once in a while she would flip her tail and spray water around.

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And blow water out, too.

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I honestly couldn't identify which type of whale it was, but it turned out to be a 32 foot female sperm whale. So rare for one to be in shallow waters like this. Sperm whales dive deep, as far as 10,000 feet below surface, and stay miles further out in the Gulf. Their primary diet is giant squid, which are found in deeper waters.

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According to the marine specialists, this whale was dying. She was emaciated and weak, with no hope of survival.

We were heartbroken to find out she was given a sedative, then euthanized right there, out on Madeira Beach, after we left.

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She was then towed out (in the water) to a remote beach in Fort DeSoto (one of our favorite campgrounds in Florida!), where a necropsy (a marine autopsy) was performed, and afterward she was buried in the sand.

While the results of the necropsy won't be ready for weeks, the biologists and marine researchers already have determined she was suffering from some chronic infection.

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Such an incredibly sad experience. Yet, an incredible opportunity for researchers to find more out deep water sperm whales. My Fox Tampa Bay wrote:

"We're finding some chronic infection. The animal has had some sort of issue with infection in its abdominal cavity," Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission biologist Andy Garret said. 

He added it would be premature to say that was the primary cause of the animal's distress, however.
"A lot of times, it's sort of a cascading effect where it gets an infection, it gets worse, it stops eating, the nutrition goes down, you start using your fat stores," Garrett said.

"Necropsies can be extremely valuable," explained the University of Florida's Dr. Michael Walsh. "One for the individual relationship on what happened to that individual, and another as a sentinel on what's going on in the environment."

You can read more here.

I have to say we have learned so much this Fall about marine life in our homeschool by just living so near the beach, and experiencing - then researching - about various sea creatures. Love interest-led learning!


Torstaina Floridan länsirannikolta löytyi huonossa kunnossa oleva valas tällä viikolla. Koska paikka ei ollut hurjan kaukana meistä, lähdin kolmen lapsen kanssa katsomaan valasta. Oli upeaa nähdä niin suuri otus - en ollut koskaan ennen nähnyt valasta, mutta surullisena seurasimme uutisista, kuinka valaalle ei annettu selviämismahdollisuuksia. Sen jälkeen, kun lähdimme rannalta, valas jouduttiin lopettamaan. Se hinattiin vedessä lähelle meidän lempileirintäaluetta, ja yhdellä heidän hiljaisista rannoistaan valaalle tehtiin perjantaina ruumiinavaus, ja se haudattiin sinne rannalle. Tuloksia pitää odottaa muutama viikko, mutta tutkijat näkivät jo, että valas oli heikossa ja huonossa kunnossa, mahdollisesti vatsassa olevan kroonisen tulehduksen takia.


  1. Voih :-( Mutta varmasti mahtavaa nähdä valas niin läheltä. Mäkään en ole koskaan nähnyt, toivottavasti pääsen joskus vielä valas-safarille.

  2. Wow! If only I had known about this, I would have taken my children too. That is so sad that the whale died. Makes you wonder if that is why the whale beached itself? Thanks for sharing such amazing photographs of the animal. At least her memory will live on now, forever :)

  3. Voi kuinka surullista etta valas oli niin sairas ettei olisi parjannyt enaa luonnossa. Upeat kuvat kuitenkin kurjasta tilanteesta.

  4. Soile, minäkin haluaisin käydä sellaisella safarilla! Joku päivä vielä:)

    Wendy Morgan, I sometimes post stuff like this on our Facebook page, can't remember if I did last week. I'll try to remember that in the future, and if you are on FB, come follow our page!

    Kiitos, Ina. Oli kyllä surullinen päivä.. Sunnuntaina juttelimme erään vapaaehtoisen kanssa, joka oli ollut silloin rannalla, ja hän sanoi, ettei valaassa ollut yhtään ruokaa vatsalaukussa eikä myöskään rasvakerrosta:(