MADEIRA BEACH - A necropsy was completed today on a sperm whale that beached itself off Madeira Beach.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the 32-foot whale was euthanized Thursday afternoon. Commission spokesman Kevin Baxter says the whale was found in poor health and emaciated near Johns Pass.
The sperm whale was so emaciated and sick as to be on the verge of death.
“He didn't get to have a long and healthy life, which is quite a shame,” said Mike Walsh, co-director of the Aquatic Animal Health program at the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine.
Walsh led a team to pump a couple of liters of potassium chloride into the beast's heart, killing it.
“It's one of the saddest things I have ever seen,” said Patrick Donahue, a 49-year-old hotel worker who lives in Madeira Beach, as he watched on Thursday. “It's a magnificent creature.”
Staff with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies were on hand Thursday to explain to journalists — and the spectators on the other side of the yellow tape — what was happening.
“You just don't want to prolong suffering in a case like this,” said Laura Engleby, NOAA's marine mammal branch chief for the federal agency's southeast division. “The most human course of action in this case is to euthanize.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.