CLEARWATER, Fla. — Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium announced that all three whales they rescued after being beached have died.
According to Mote's Facebook page, after rescuing two pygmy killer whales off Sandy Key in Clearwater on August 29, they rescued a melon-headed whale on September 4 that was found beached alive on Longboat Key.
"Lightning," one of the two pygmy killer whales, passed away around 9 a.m. on September 5.
Mote said while Lightning's specific cause of death is unknown she repeatedly struggled to swim on her own, showed no interest in food, and was being treated for pneumonia, parasites known as nasotrema, and gastric issues. She was the sickest of the three whales.
"While we are sad that Lightning has passed, we are working quickly to learn as much as we can from her, both to benefit the knowledge of pygmy killer whales for conservation, and to benefit the care of other pygmy killer whales in hospital settings. Today Lightning is being transported to the University of Florida (UF) for a necropsy (animal autopsy), with the participation of UF and Mote staff, and for UF's advanced diagnostic imaging to better understand her anatomy, physiology, illness and ultimately her demise. Lightning’s skeleton will be preserved in Mote’s Ruth DeLynn Cetacean Osteological Collection to further advance knowledge of her species."
On Thursday, "Thunder," the second pygmy killer whale, also passed.
"As reported yesterday, Sept.5, Lightning the pygmy killer whale passed. Thunder also passed peacefully this morning at Mote Marine Laboratory. Thunder was very socially bonded with the other pygmy killer whale, Lightning, and we are unsure what impact Lightning’s recent passing had on Thunder: Lightning passed about 26 hour previous to Thunder. Thunder’s body will be transported to University of Florida (UF) for advanced diagnostic imaging, before returning to Mote Marine Laboratory for necropsy. Lighting was also transported to UF, and early results from Lighting’s diagnostic imaging revealed severe sinusitis. After necropsy, both skeletons will return to Mote’s Ruth DeLynn Cetacean Osteological Collection for preservation to further advance knowledge of the pygmy killer whale species."
On Friday, Mote announced that "after a rapid decline overnight, our staff made the tough decision to humanely euthanize Bolt."
"Our thoughts are with our partners, staff, and volunteers that have worked 24-7 the last week and a half attempting to rehabilitate these whales. Thank you to everyone that has given condolences and support to our team. It is truly appreciated," Mote wrote in a Facebook post on Friday.