Humpback whales making a splash
A dead whale washed ashore at Huntington Beach State Park early Friday morning.
The whale was discovered about 6 a.m. during a sea turtle patrol, said Brenda Magers, park manager.
Magers said she believes the marine animal to be a pygmy sperm whale. Marine wildlife experts from Coastal Carolina University arrived at the park, and a necropsy got underway.
The whale is roughly 11 feet long and was about 50 yards from the ocean. Scientists haven’t determined the animal’s age.
“This is not unusual,” Rob Young, professor of marine science at CCU, said, adding that while it’s not outside the norm to find these animals stranded from time-to-time, they’re typically not seen until they wash up on beaches.
Young said it’s unknown why these creatures end up stranded along the shore, but usually there is something wrong when this happens.
He said there are about 55 strandings each year along the South Carolina coast, and this is the second most common type of marine animal stranding just behind bottlenose dolphins.
Scientists will gather samples from the whale for study then bury its remains.