Whale euthanized near Tampa Bay

Published: Wednesday, January 2, 2008 at 6:40 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 2, 2008 at 6:40 a.m.

PALMETTO, Fla. - A sperm whale that had been stuck in shallow waters near the mouth of Tampa Bay was euthanized early Tuesday.

The 25- to 30-foot mammal was euthanized at about 10 a.m., said Laura Engleby, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Agency. Researchers concluded that not putting the sick animal down would only prolong its suffering.

The whale had drifted from Pinellas County to waters near Terra Ceia Bay but showed no signs of going out to deeper waters. Officials were able to get close enough to the whale on Monday to give it a sedative and determine that it had no obvious injuries.

Authorities began monitoring the whale on Sunday, and had warned boaters to stay away from the animal.

The whale has been taken to Fort DeSoto Park in Pinellas County for a necropsy.

Sperm whales are the most common type of large whales found in the Gulf of Mexico, but they tend to stay farther out to sea. Sightings near the Florida coast are rare, and are usually an indication the animal is in distress.

In 2003, a live 23-foot sperm whale beached itself near Naples and was euthanized.

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