October 5, 2009

42 foot Bryde's Whale Was Found DEAD Near A Shipping Canal Off The Florida Coast!!!

Tampa Bay Online
Bryde's Whale will be buried at Fort De Soto Park
written by KEITH MORELLI The Tampa Tribune
Monday October 5, 2009

ST. PETERSBURG - Scores of spectators and nearly twice as many helpers watched as a rumbling crane dragged the carcass of a nearly 42 foot Bryde's Whale from the splashing surf onto the beach late this morning.

As the whale's flukes – pulled taut by heavy-duty yellow ropes attached to the crane – touched the sand, the putrid smell of rotting flesh struck the crowd just south of where the leviathan will undergo a necropsy to determine just how it died.

The beachhead is the south shore of the Fort De Soto Park. The whale will be buried on the beach, which is infrequently used and where swimming is prohibited. Looming to the east is the Sunshine Skyway bridge; to the southwest, Egmont Key.

Whales are occasionally found dead in area waters, but seldom are they this large. Twice, ropes snapped trying to get it to shore.

The beast was found dead and floating Sunday morning in Tampa Bay near a shipping channel between Davis Islands and Port Sutton. It was large enough for the U.S. Coast Guard to issue a navigational hazard warning to boaters. It took about eight hours this morning for a Sea Towboat to bring the whale from where it was to the beach, slowly towing it tail first.

Katie Brill, with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's marine mammal pathology lab, said scientists are saddened to be notified of the death of one of the planets most remarkable animals.

"Fortunately, we are able to get out here and get something out of it," she said.

Scientists still do not know why the whale died and will have to take tissue samples to find the cause of death, whether it is disease, trauma or just old age, she said. The whale had no obvious signs of trauma, such as if it had been attacked by sharks or hit by a boat.

To get tissue samples to study, biologists used flensing knives, large, oar-like knives that old whalers used to fillet the blubber off captured whales.

Erin Fougeres, a marine biologist and marine mammal stranding coordinator with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said teams from all over are helping out today. Workers from Mote Marine and the Clearwater Aquarium are part of a network that responds to stranding calls, whether manatees or whales, she said.

She said that it was unusual for a whale that size to be in Tampa Bay, but couldn't say for sure if it swam there or drifted there after it died.

Any whale is a rarity in Tampa Bay. Most are spotted in the Gulf of Mexico.

Sperm whales are sometimes found off the west coast of Florida, and those that venture close to shore usually are sick or injured.

In January 2008, a sick sperm whale was found off Pinellas County near the mouth of Tampa Bay. The 30-foot female remained stuck in shallow water for days before officials decided it could not be saved and euthanized it.

That whale is buried along the beach where this one will be buried later today.

Among the onlookers early this morning was Todd Neff from Evansville, Ind.

"I was fishing on the pier," he said pointing to the pier just north of the whale. "Someone told me there was a whale down here. I've never seen one."

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