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UPDATE: Baby Whale Euthanized

The pygmy sperm whale, located about 1 mile away from where a dead finback washed up on Sunday, showed signs of illness; Lack of resources available to save it.

LONG ISLAND, NY -- Update, 6:20 p.m.: The second whale — a live baby — that washed ashore on a local beach Sunday afternoon was euthanized, in large because of the lack of resources to handle stranded, wild whales.

Kim Durham, the rescue program coordinator at the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, said the male pygmy sperm whale was still breathing when discovered in the surf on Napeague, about one mile down from where a dead finback whale washed ashore earlier on Sunday.

Marine biologists decided to euthanize the young whale for several reasons.

"It showed signs of illness," Durham said, adding that the Riverhead Foundation had no tank available to rehabilitate it. "It was a very sad afternoon," she said.

The whale, which was about 5 feet long and 150 pounds and believed to be a yearling, showed poor body condition. Durham said its body was "sunken in behind the neck," a place biologists assess whales. It also had skin legions, which can indicate infection, she said.

Pygmy sperm whales, young or old, are off-shore species and found in warmer waters. "They are not supposed to be this close to shore," she said. "It is rare to have a pygmy sperm whale beached, whether it was dead or alive."

An adult pygmy sperm whale was discovered dead on the shore in West Hampton Dunes in May 2012. The 9-foot whale was underweight at about 800 pounds.

A big part of the decision to euthanize instead of rehabilitate, Durham said, is that Riverhead Foundation only has one 30-foot diameter tank at its facility at the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead, which is currently being inhabited by a harbor porpoise. "We don't have the resources for it," Durham said. "We can't put two species together in one tank and also we can't admit a new species into a tank with another that is already being rehabilitated."

Had it been another harbor porpoise, as was initially reported, they may have been able to rescue it and house it in a smaller tank, Durham said.

The harbor porpoise the foundation is currently rehabilitating was rescued from Maine. The Riverhead Foundation is the only tank for such mammals from Maine to Florida. It was transported to the Riverhead Foundation on Oct. 25, and is doing "remarkably well." It's release is expected within the month.

Sunday's occurances left many asking: Is it too much of a coincidence that two whales washed up in the same area?

"It really probably is," Durham said. While it is rare, Durham said it may be explained by the currents. Based on decomposition, the finback has been dead in the ocean one to two weeks, coming ashore where the current left it, she said. "The same could be said for the pygmy, if it was weakened, it's going to go where the current is going to take it."

The pygmy whale was euthanized in the "dolphin ambulance" that responded. A necropsy will be performed on Tuesday, as biologists will be performing a necropsy of the finback on Monday.

Previously: While examining the dead whale that washed ashore on Napeague, the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation received another call about a live mammal that washed up nearby.

It was reported that a harbor porpoise had washed up at about 3 p.m., but it turned out to be a very young whale — possibly a dwarf sperm or pygmy whale — about a mile or so west down the beach from where the dead finback whale is located.

The baby whale was still breathing.

Durham was not immediately available to comment on the baby whale's condition or the foundation's plan of action.

A rescue team from the Riverhead Foundation was dispatched with its "dolphin ambulance," so that it could transport what it thought was going to be a harbor porpoise. It was unclear what the foundation would do with the baby whale.

Harbor porpoises, which are typically three to four feet in length and look like a dolphin except for a blunt beak, are found in the cold waters. The foundation is currently rehabilitating one in its tanks in Riverhead, Durham said.

Check back for more information when it becomes available.

ViralGrain January 15, 2013 at 06:24 AM
Whale Writer who the f r u to come to this sight with a name to suit your agenda and then push your propaganda? Never seen you on this sight before. Hope never to see you again. I'm sure you are not just some ordinary resident and wouldn't be surprised if you are affiliated in some direct way to one of the agencies responsible for this mess. About a half a dozen of us saw the Navy transport chopper fly over in the direction of the ocean which is less then a half a mile away last week. This is Navy research area. Because we saw this we a mentally ill as you say? We are monsters because we wanted to give the baby whale a fighting chance? We are not cowards and we are not blind deaf and dumb as I'm sure you rather us be. Next time the agency needs a PR person to sway the public opinion let it not be you, because you are out of your league. We are not a bunch of 3rd world uneducated people that can be so easily manipulated and did not get to where we are by being complete morons. As matter of fact I will help to see to it that the costs are covered for it to be towed out to sea after a independent bioligist ( I know one) has a good look at it. See I saw extensive pictures of that whale the day before the media circus started and in none of those pictures do I see any contusions anywhere to that whale. I will try to get that person to send those photos in to Patch. Maybe you would rather us believe it was the center fule tank in the whale that caused this.
Tracie Janik January 15, 2013 at 12:26 PM
I thought the goal of ALL wildlife rescue be it on LAND or SEA is to RESCUE!! NOT simply euthanize an animal because they can't find a big enough tank at THEIR facility.. Move other animals around, MAKE THE ROOM!! If you can't find the room there then find room elsewhere!! This RARE PYGMY SPERM WHALE WAS BREATHING, WAS MALNOURISHED AND SICK!! It needed HELP!! They do NOT strand simply to come up and say "HI", they strand to say "HELP". What these "experts", and I do use that term loosely, did, WAS WRONG!!! SHAME ON YOU!!!!
Whale Writer January 15, 2013 at 01:01 PM
You are asking the wrong questions. You should be asking.... Why don't Alec Baldwin, Billy Joel, P. Diddy, George Soros, Howard Stern, The Koch Brother, Barbara Walters, Anderen Cooper, Calvin Lein or any of the other rich and famous people of the Hamptons support this organization. They all have houses on the beach and have all been with in a few yards of one of these strandings at one point or another. Why are YOU not fighting to have the Prescott Grant Program funding retored? You do know that Obama removed it from the budget, right? Why are YOU not petitioning local politicians to place a .5% tax on real estate transfers of waterfront property, heck even a .1% tax would create an entirely different future for these animals in the event there's a chance to help them. Why are you criticizing the one group on the east coast, outside of Florida that has even one cetacean tank to attmpt the rehab of dolphins and small whales? Why aren't you praising them for trying to save the harbor porpoise that is currently in their tank? Why aren't you doing anything other than judging and complaining? Get out in the world and make a difference or at least educate yourself enough to know something about these animals and why they strand and while your at it, learn something about the people who are dedicating their lives to help them against incredible odds and with very little support.
Whale Writer January 15, 2013 at 01:05 PM
Why haven't you built a world class cetacean rehab facility, you are free to do so, you know. Start a non-profit foundation and raise some money and build, it's quite simple really. With all the millionaires living on the beaches here, you should have no problem raising the money to help these wonderful creatures. Get going, I'll even come to your grand opening in a few weeks and make a nice donation.
Whale Writer January 15, 2013 at 01:15 PM
rescued a lot of Pygmy Sperm Whales, have you?
tracy January 15, 2013 at 01:42 PM
should have placed it back in the water it might have had a chance
Wendy Frederick January 15, 2013 at 06:33 PM
So agree! Human's solution to EVERYTHING!!! Kill it, and that will solve everything!
Wendy Frederick January 15, 2013 at 06:41 PM
Gail, if we didn't pay attention to rehabbing marine mammals a lot of them would die - this throws off the eco system in our oceans, and then it trickles down to affecting all of us. You have no idea how important it is to preserve our oceans and how it CAN effect us. If you did have knowledge of the importance, you wouldn't make stupid comments such as this one!
Whale Writer January 15, 2013 at 06:44 PM
These animals strand because they can no longer fight the waves and the current. For a whale or a dolphin to drown is as agonizing as it is for a person, knowing that is the case, why would you want to return a debilitated animal to the environment that it cannot survive in? This isn't like a mass stranding of dolphins or pilot whales where you can find some healthy ones that merely followed the pod onto the beach. In those cases, you can certainly find ones that can be returned, but even then they often re-strand and die after tremendous suffering.
Bill Gioia January 15, 2013 at 07:14 PM
Viral if that shot was directed at me say so. I am not a Marine Biologist nor a expert but I have been in the water with them I have seen them when they are sick or dying they try to beach themselves before some other predator picks up on it and makes it suffer more by eating it. Natures way yes but since this baby whale was on shore This was the most humane way . I would hate to be your pet Viral glad IM not.
Bill Gioia January 15, 2013 at 07:38 PM
Tracy I am a lover wildlife,and Marine life. The Pigmy Whale was sick and beached itself I believe nature and instinct brought the Whale to shore so it wouldn't have to suffer the consequences of being in open water with other predators after it. Yes we all have to eat at Least this one made it to shore so it wouldn't have to suffer the consequences of being attacked by 100's of others and also suffering sickness..
ViralGrain January 15, 2013 at 08:58 PM
If it was so sick how come no other predators had a bite of it such as a shark? Has any testing been done to see if any of the mammals that have washed up been exposed to low frequency sonar? Beside from disorientating the animal, it causes physical trauma to specific organs. The fact that the goal is to chop up the whale and incinerated and not test for such exposer or cart it out to sea shady to me. We have Coast Guard Cutters in the area that are capable of towing something like that very easily. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8rZxmCejD0
Taylor K. Vecsey (Editor) January 15, 2013 at 09:51 PM
Here is an update on the necropsy finding of the baby whale: http://patch.com/A-1gWF
ViralGrain January 16, 2013 at 12:53 AM
Bill Gioia you would hate to be my pet. LOL. I'd hat to be your pet. You would probably rather take me out back and shoot me then to take me to a vet.
dee January 17, 2013 at 03:40 PM
there was a pygmy whale that beached a few months ago, dont know if it was male or female, if female, maybe it was the mother of this baby, who although young was able to transition to feeding on its own, keeping himself alive, but in deteriorating condition.
Taylor K. Vecsey (Editor) January 17, 2013 at 04:56 PM
Are you referring to the one in May that we mentioned above? "An adult pygmy sperm whale was discovered dead on the shore in West Hampton Dunes in May 2012." That was a female, and I believe it was pregnant. The Riverhead Foundation had no other reports of another pygmy whale recently.
Bill Gioia January 17, 2013 at 06:44 PM
I agree Gail. Wendy I think if you re read what she said carefully you would understand more.
Preliator January 17, 2013 at 08:40 PM
You are out of your mind. You want to build some whale rehab center, you do it with your money. Why does someone else have to pay for what you want?
Whale Writer January 17, 2013 at 09:34 PM
But what are you guys doing? You say it's a priority, yet you are not involved in any way with these animals.
Whale Writer January 17, 2013 at 10:44 PM
Well Gail, you see what your voices have gotten so far. Voices are cheap. The Riverhead Foundation and Okeanos before them have struggled in the field for over 30 years to make a difference while people like you sit on the side-lines and criticize.
Whale Writer January 17, 2013 at 10:49 PM
Obviously not Gail because they have never supported these endeavors thus far. If you have been paying attention over the last 30 years, other groups have challenged Okeanos in the past and Riverhead currently and all have failed to gain any amount of support to get their ideas off the ground. Everyone thinks they can do a better job until they find out what the job really entails. Why not volunteer with Riverhead and try to help them raise money from all those millionaires?
ViralGrain January 17, 2013 at 11:45 PM
What does it entail? Keeping your mouth shut if you are told to if you want to keep any government funding? Dispose of any evidence that may implicate low frequency sonar or god knows what else?
dee January 17, 2013 at 11:59 PM
what happened to the rehab facility that was built for keiko......isnt that still in existence?
Preliator January 18, 2013 at 01:56 PM
"the funds exist the moneyis out there sitting in 1,000,000 dollar homes in 1,000,000,000 dollar bank accounts,".....are those your homes or your bank accounts? Sure sounds like you want some one else to pay for it? Collective and like minded....go find those collective and like minded people and build your dream.
Preliator January 18, 2013 at 04:56 PM
"I never said someone else HAD to pay for it! I said it was there and possible!" vs. "the funds exist the moneyis out there sitting in 1,000,000 dollar homes in 1,000,000,000 dollar bank accounts"
Imbricata January 18, 2013 at 05:51 PM
@ Whale Writer, I personally know that there are people writing on this thread that have PHYSICALLY donated their time and energy as a resource in aid of rehabilitation and conservation efforts. I think it is a dangerous game assuming you know the whole story and what part each person has played. The post was taken severely out of context and you are continuing to run with it without reading the correct context. I hope that you yourself have 'put your money where your mouth is' so to speak and are physically volunteering or involved in the conservation battle, but even if you are a public voice as an advocate you are doing more than most. We are on the same side here, conservation, rehabilitation, research and rescue efforts for marine mammals and sea turtles need to be better funded and an emphasis put on public education.
Ralebird January 18, 2013 at 07:56 PM
"You dumb fool" "Shut up" "Same thing, idiot." "Stop being so abrasive and negative and stop attacking everyone" These comments were all written in this thread by the same hypocrite.
dee January 18, 2013 at 08:33 PM
if they hadnt been so lazy and anxious to kill this baby, resources might have been found, there are other rescue groups, and although they might not have been able to house and care for the baby, they might have known of resouces to put this agency in touch with for help, look at the keiko situation, UPS provided a great deal of support in transporting the whale for free, often quick decisions are not the right decisions, especially when its an innocent ones life at stake...... .
Ralebird January 18, 2013 at 10:57 PM
New comment; same hypocrite. Look in the mirror before you criticize others with your juvenile name calling.
Wendy Frederick January 21, 2013 at 11:41 PM
My God! Everyone is jumping all over me about this Whale subject! I don't even remember what I said, but obviously all of you are viciously blasting me out of the box. If you disagree, fine! I respect that! But don't blast me to death for my opinions! I have a right to say what I feel and think. If any of you can't handle that, then too bad! I just feel more could have been done, and it wasn't! LEAVE IT AT THAT!!!! NO MORE COMMENTS!!

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