Featured Image Credit: www.tampabay.com
By: Kira Krall
A beachgoer near Clearwater, Florida got quite the sight as she went for her early morning walk. The large shape she spotted in the shallows turned out to be an 8-foot long melon-headed whale that needed her help. After she reported the nearly 300-pound mammal to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, she positioned the whale’s blowhole above the surface and made it easier for the marine mammal to breathe. Clearwater Marine Aquarium arrived on scene to stabilize the whale to complete the rescue. They stabilized the rare cetacean and checked for signs of a life-threatening condition before transporting him to Sea World for rehabilitation. Watch a video below of his care!
Initial exams revealed that the whale had no visible injuries. Once he arrived at SeaWorld only three hours after his stranding was reported, he was swimming unsupported in his recovery pool. He remains there while veterinary staff continues to monitor and treat him.
Melon-headed whales are named after the organ involved in echolocation. Dolphins, orcas, and other toothed whales all have a melon in their forehead to fine-tune signals and hone in on their surroundings. This species of cetacean is a rare sight due to their deep-dwelling habits. A population near Hawaii has been logged diving as deep as 6,000 feet. The Gulf of Mexico has its own resident population, which could be the group that the rescued male travels, feeds, and plays in.
While his condition is stable at the moment, Sea World staff are monitoring him around the clock to check for the condition that caused him to stray so far from his normal habitat. Marine mammals that strand are almost always sick or injured and are very good at hiding it. Reasons for stranding could include everything from natural causes like disease to man-made ones like seismic testing.