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Marine debris likely led to sperm whale stranding off Florida Keys, FWC says

Stranded sperm whale FWC.png
Posted at 9:48 AM, May 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-13 10:24:39-04

The FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute said marine debris is likely what caused a sperm whale to become stranded off the Florida Keys.

The whale was one of two that died within a week in the Keys.

Researchers said a necropsy showed that the 47-foot adult male had a mass of "intertwined line, net pieces, and plastic bag type material" in its stomach.

"This debris likely did not allow the whale to eat properly, leading to its emaciated condition and stranding," FWC said.

Officials said further testing will be done on tissue samples collected from the whale to rule out any other health-related issues. The debris will also be analyzed to determine its type and origin.

FWC wants to remind people that if you see an injured or stranded marine mammal, do not push them back into the water. FWC said almost all animals get stranded because they're ill or injured. If you see one, call for trained responders to intervene.

  • FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline: 888-404-3922
  • Southeast Region Stranding Network 877-WHALE HELP (1-877-942-5343