MALIBU—On Friday, January 18, at around 7:30 a.m., a pygmy sperm whale washed up near Zuma Beach located on the 29800 block of the Pacific Coast Highway.
Beachgoers, the Los Angeles County Fire Department Lifeguards, California Wildlife Staff, and Marine Mammal Rescue Team volunteers tried to move the 900-pound, 12-foot long whale back into the ocean. The mammal was too weak to be returned to the water. The whale was loaded into the back of a van and transported to a nearby lifeguard station for treatment.
The California Wildlife Center reported that The whale was an adult female and the initial physical exam revealed that she was in good body condition, indicating that she stranded as a result of an internal issue. The whale had bilateral conjunctivitis or eye infections in both eyes, which caused her blindness. She had abrasions on her body and a chronic wound on the right side just cranial to her fluke. The whale also had bloody discharge.
California Wildlife Center’s veterinarian, Dr. Stephany Lewis consulted with veterinarians at Sea World, San Diego and officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who advised to euthanize the whale. Pygmy Sperm whales are reported to not do well during rehabilitation. The whale was euthanized at around 11 a.m.
“These animals don’t strand without reason. The strand because they have some severe systemic illness which we can’t typically appreciate during the initial physical exam,” said Lewis.
The Los Angeles Times reported that this is the second whale of the same species to wash up on a Malibu beach in a span of six months. Officials believe that the increased amount of debris and toxins that have flowed into the ocean from recent rainfall and wildfires are causing the animals to come upon shore.
The National History Museum is scheduled to pick up the remains of the animal and will conduct tests on the whale to determine the cause of the illness.