By Molly Daly
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A small whale that feeds in deep waters was stranded Monday morning in Longport, New Jersey, and had to be euthanized.
The one that washed up at the mouth of the Great Egg River was an adult Pygmy Sperm Whale — at 12 feet long, not much bigger than a dolphin.
Marine Mammal Stranding Center Founding Director Bob Schoelkopf says it was gravely ill. “When they do come ashore, it’s almost always with a heart problem, even an enlarged valve, or bleeding around the heart, this type of thing, and no one really knows why that species is like that and what causes it.”
But the whale’s death offers scientists a window into the solitary creature’s lives.
“When they do come in, and we have to euthanize it, there’s a lot of information and interest that we can gain from examining that heart.”
It’ll be studied at the Penn Vet School’s New Bolton Center in Kennett Square. As for living marine mammals, Schoelkopf says any sightings should be reported to 609-266-0538.
“It’s important, not only for whales like this, but this is seal season now. In fact, two days ago we had a report dated back to December 31st, and they just notified us two days ago that they saw a seal, and had a photo of it, wanting to know what it was. Luckily, that seal was sitting on a dock, in very good condition. But if it’s injured or entangled or something like that, and they wait a week or two, that animal could be dead by the time we find it.”
To find out more, visit MarineMammalStrandingCenter.org.