21-foot orca that washed ashore in Palm Coast buried at ‘secret location’ on UF campus

University of Florida has history with killer whale remains, WUFT reports

21-foot orca dies after washing ashore in Palm Coast

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – It’s a burial that will make you scratch your head and say, “huh.”

The 21-foot orca that died after washing up on the beach at Jungle Hut Park in Palm Coast earlier this month was buried at a “secret location” somewhere on campus at the University of Florida, according to WUFT.

The killer whale was found washed ashore on Jan. 11 — an extremely rare instance in Florida as there has never been a recorded incident of an orca becoming stranded anywhere in Florida or the Southeast.

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Officials said the approximately 6,000-pound orca appeared to be alive when she was first found.

The necropsy found no sign of human effects and nothing ingested.

Marine biologists with SeaWorld and officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission helped transport the killer whale to a lab at SeaWorld where they performed a necropsy. Tissue samples were taken and sent out for further analysis.

So why was the orca buried at the University of Florida campus? We may have the answers.

The last killer whale to be stranded in the Southeast was in 1956, according to WUFT. The animal was “too decomposed for scientists to determine its cause of death based on tissue samples.”

However, according to an article published by the Florida Academy of Sciences, Inc., a neat round hole was found in the skull, suggesting it may have been shot, WUFT reports.

The skull from the 1956 stranding currently resides at the University of Florida and is stored in Research and Collections at the Florida Museum of Natural History, reports said.

“The Florida Museum has a mammal collection that contains thousands of specimens, ranging from preserved bats to the spine of a whale.”

So is the university waiting until decomposition to unearth the skeleton of the orca to display in the museum? We are unsure, but it seems likely.

Click here to read more facts from WUFT.

About the Author:

Carianne Luter is a social media producer for News4Jax and has worked at Channel 4 since December 2015. She graduated from the University of North Florida with a communication degree.