Rescue teams: Something may be wrong with pilot whale species

Published: Jul. 5, 2017 at 4:33 PM EDT
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By: Erika Fernandez| WCTV Eyewitness News

July 6, 2017

PERRY, Fla. (WCTV) -- Last Thursday, WCTV reported about a 10-foot pilot whale found stranded on the coast in Taylor County. We've since learned it wasn’t the only one, and researchers are speculating why.

Researches are starting to think there may be something wrong with the species. These animals travel in groups, and if their leader is sick, there's a good possibility the pack is just following behind.

Over a four day period, rescue teams and Florida Wildlife Conservation responded to 10 different whale strandings in Taylor and Dixie counties. Of those 10, only one was saved. The female whale is being treated at a rehab facility in Clearwater.

The mammal found in Hagens Cove last week washed up on shore and was in shock for hours before vets deemed it in poor condition. It was euthanized, along with eight others found last weekend.

Researches are now looking into what's causing them to beach themselves, and how they can be treated.

"What is known for historic stranding is that these kind of species does not strand alone. Sometimes when there's a whole population, the leader of the whole population is sick and the whole population follows and strands together with the leader," said Victor Blanco, the UF Sea Grant Extension Marine Agent in Taylor County.

These 10 strandings in our area come just two weeks after another pilot whale was found stranded in Siesta Key. Blanco said it's very uncommon to find these types of mammals on the shores, but if you come across one, he advised to not push it back into the water, but to call 911 immediately.

If whales beach themselves, it’s because something isn't right and it needs help. Blanco said it could take a few months before they necropsy results are released.

By: Erika Fernandez | WCTV Eyewitness News

July 5, 2017

PERRY, Fla. (WCTV) -- Between June 29 and June 30, UF Marine Animal Rescue responded to reports of three pilot whales found stranded alive in Taylor and Dixie Counties. One of them was responsive, while the other two were not. They were euthanized by stranding network veterinarians.

Over the weekend, Florida Wildlife Conservation law enforcement and UF Marine Animal Rescue searched the area and found seven more whales stranded in Taylor County. Those animals were reported dead and in moderate to advanced states of decomposition when found.

UF veterinarians and biologists performed necropsies on several of the animals to find out if the whales were related to each other and the cause of the stranding.

WCTV was on scene of one of the whales found stranded on June 29, you can find that story