Stranded juvenile sperm whale euthanized in Nags Head

Published 11:35 am Saturday, December 30, 2023

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According to the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, a juvenile sperm whale was reported to the OBX Marine Mammal Stranding Network (MMSN) at about 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 27. Responders from the team arrived to assess the whale, which was being rolled in the swash zone near Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head. Due to human safety concerns working with a large animal in the water, the animal was observed and reassessed a few hours later as the tide dropped.

“Unfortunately, these single marine mammal strandings indicate that the animal’s health is rapidly declining,” stated the aquarium. “Because rehabilitation for many large species is difficult or impossible, the best course of action is humane euthanasia. Experts then perform a necropsy, or animal autopsy, to learn more about the whale and to try and determine a cause for stranding.”

Marine Mammal team members from Virginia and North Carolina traveled to the site for a thorough examination.

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“It takes time for the test results on tissues to come back from the lab, so we will try to give you an update if anything conclusive is found,” stated the aquarium.

“Thank you to all who share a passion for these amazing creatures!”

The OBX MMSN partners with the NC Aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, and the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. All marine mammal work is conducted under current federal permits.