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Sperm whale washes up in Ponte Vedra Beach

FWC on the scene

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – A dead 14-foot pygmy sperm whale washed ashore on Ponte Vedra Beach on Thursday morning behind the Sawgrass Beach Club.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologists were called to the site behind the Sawgrass Beach Club. Wildlife biologists using heavy equipment removed the whale and will study the carcass to learn more about it and determine why it beached. Most of what is known about these whales comes from the examination of stranded specimens.

“Pygmy sperm whales are a common strander down here, actually, and they are an offshore species,” FWC marine mammal biologist Nadia Gordon said. “They feed a lot on squid, so when they are found near the shore or on the beach, there’s a problem -- something going on. There’s a reason they are stranding.”

During low tide, the whale was removed from the beach.

“Our agency will look at the animal, doing an external work up initially to see what’s going on potentially and then, likely, a necropsy to look internally and see what’s going on,” Gordon said.

The call to FWC initially came in for a Right whale -- a critically endangered species that spends the winter in the warmer water off the coast of Northeast Florida and southeast Georgia.

“First thing we saw was the News4(Jax) chopper hovering over, so we knew something was going on,” resident Rich Reiley said. “It is sadness that a sea creature is going to die like that, but, at the same time, there’s also that whole 2020 thing. I mean, could this year bring us anything more? Yeah, it sure could: a whale stranding on our very own beach.”

Dead whale left on beach after high tide Friday morning.
Dead whale left on beach after high tide Friday morning. (wjxt)

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