Necropsy performed on beached whale

A necropsy was performed on a Pygmy Sperm whale that beached itself Sunday in Myrtle Beach.
A necropsy was performed on a Pygmy Sperm whale that beached itself Sunday in Myrtle Beach.

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Beach goers were in awe Sunday night when a 10-foot, 1,000 pound visitor came to shore.

"It is always dramatic, especially in a place like Myrtle Beach, with big crowds when a live whale shows up," said Dr. Robert Young, a professor of marine sciences at Coastal Carolina University. 

The large Pygmy Sperm whale beached itself near the Breakers Resort. Onlookers urged police and other responding agencies to help the animal, but marine biology experts said there was nothing more that could have been done.

"It's not that they're not doing anything," explained Young.  "You have an animal that's dying and you're trying to treat it as humanely as possible."

The humane treatment included giving the whale Valium to calm it down before finally being euthanized, just before 9 p.m.  A team of veterinarians and marine specialists performed a necropsy Monday morning. 

They found the whale had a slightly enlarged heart; however, it isn't enough to know why exactly it came to shore. In fact, heart problems are common for this species.

"That's not uncommon,"said Young. "It may even be standard for some of these, so that not really ringing any bells there."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Pygmy Sperm whales beaching themselves is also fairly common. On average, four or five said whales come to shore each year in South Carolina, making them the second-most beached animal in the state.
           
"Your instinct is to push it offshore, but pushing it offshore, it's just going to come back up shore just down the beach and you're actually prolonging its suffering," said Young.

Experts say, while the scene may be difficult to watch, it's important to let nature take its course.  They say it's also important to learn from the experience and use it to benefit the animals down the road.  

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