A young sperm whale found beached near La Jolla, California (north of San Diego) was pushed back into the ocean and escorted about one fourth of a mile out into deeper water. Twenty SeaWorld San Diego employees helped with the efforts including injecting the whale with antibiotics because it had been cut by rocks on the shore. It probably beached itself because it was sick or lost. The stranded whale is a male 15 to 18 feet long weighing about 3,000 pounds. (There is a photograph here.) “What we decided to do in the best interest of this animal was to swim it off the beach,” said Keith Yip from SeaWorld. (Source: UPI)
It had been 25 years since a sperm whale beached itself near La Jolla, which is a small seaside community, known for its swimming cove near the downtown, and Black’s Beach. The whale was stranded at about 9:30 pm and by 1:00 am volunteers had him back out to sea. It was reported the sperm whale was making normal noises and was energetic considering the ordeal, so SeaWorld volunteers were optimistic about its chances for survival. Anyone who sees a stranded marine animal near San Diego should call (800) 541 – SEAL (7325) to notify SeaWorld.
It wasn’t clear exactly what had made the sperm whale ill, if that was the cause of the beaching, but recently scientists discovered evidence of toxic pollution in sperm whales. “The skin and blubber of sperm whales from across the Pacific Ocean carry evidence of exposure to a class of toxic pollutants, with whales living around the Galapagos Islands showing the strongest signs of exposure, according to a new study.” (Source: Livescience.com)
The reason they can be exposed to a constant level of pollution even if they are not near urban centers is that currents can carry pollution over long distances, and whales are constantly moving through waters. Sperm whales can live for seventy years and can also accumulate toxins based on the other marine animals they eat.
Image Credit: Alessio Marrucci