Whale dies after washing up on beach at Hanna Park: FWC

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said a whale washed up Wednesday morning on the beach at Hanna Park.

The whale, an adult 7-foot dwarf sperm whale, was found near Entrance 9.

A viewer sent a photo of the whale on the shore to News4JAX. It showed signs of trauma on the whale’s body.

The FWC said the wounds on the fins and belly were from the beaching as the whale scraped the sand in the surf.

FWC crews arrived quickly because park staff called immediately after spotting the whale, and it was still alive when FWC personnel transported it from the beach, but it did not survive.

“We had never seen anything like that before,” said James Wallace, who witnessed the whale being removed from the beach. “We just were hoping that they would be able to do something for it, but obviously not. It was not very active.”

A necropsy will be done to determine how the whale died.

Wildlife officials said it’s not normal for this species to be this close to shore and it’s possible humans could have played a role in what happened to the whale, but it’s too early to tell.

“This is an animal that we wouldn’t find so close to shore and since it beached itself -- there is a problem going on,” FWC spokesperson Nadia Gordon said. “There is a possibility that something we did as humans could have impacted this animal, but we are not sure at this time. We have not completed this process yet.”

The agency is considering garbage and litter from people as a factor. Gordon said trash has been responsible for whale deaths in the past.

“We had a beached whale, for example, that had plastic in its GI system,” Gordon said. “As humans, the choices we make as consumers and the products we purchase and what we do with the trash really impact these animals.”

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This native of the Big Apple joined the News4Jax team in July 2021.