Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network



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TMMSN Recovers Adult Pygmy Sperm Whale from Jamaica Beach, Galveston, TX

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Update - February 25, 2011 - Preliminary Necropsy Results for Pygmy Sperm Whale

Dear TMMSN Supporters,

First of all, we want to thank all of the volunteers that came out for the necropsy yesterday. It certainly was a lot of hard work and we appreciated your help tremendously!

A nine hour necropsy was conducted by TMMSN pathologist, Dr. Daniel Cowan, staff and volunteers on the pygmy sperm whale that was recovered from Jamaica Beach February 23rd, 2011. Preliminary necropsy findings show that the animal was suffering from a bacterial infection with the presence of a large paratracheal abscess too far advanced for treatment and may have contributed to further complication throughout the body. In addition, evidence of heart failure was also found, the cause of which will be confirmed. The abscess is likely what brought the whale to the beach, however microscopic studies will be completed on the tissue samples collected during the necropsy and a formal report prepared.

For additional formal necropsy reports on previous dolphin and whale strandings along the Texas coast, visit our research page.

February 23, 2011

TMMSN Volunteers and Members,

Many of you may have heard news of a whale stranding this morning/afternoon through the media before we could touch base with you. A live whale has been recovered from Jamaica Beach in Galveston and is currently in our rehabilitation tank at the Galveston facility. The whale was initially reported as a baby sperm whale calf and steps were initiated to begin aerial surveys to locate a mother in the event that it was a calf, however identification of the animal has been made as an adult pygmy sperm whale so those efforts are not necessary.

The whale was brought to the facility in order to allow for an examination and determination by the veterinarian. The animal is approximately 12 feet in length and well over 1,000 pounds. The whale and has been supporting itself in the water, although its condition is deteriorating quickly. Pygmy sperm whales have not been successfully rehabilitated in the past for a number of reasons and unfortunately we will likely need to make the decision to euthanize the animal to prevent the prolonging of any suffering. According to our records, we have had 20 confirmed pygmy sperm whale strandings along the Texas Coast since the existence of TMMSN.

The Galveston and Jamaica Beach police and Fire Department did an amazing job at assisting with the recovery of the animal today and we can't thank them enough along with the TMMSN volunteers that are here to assist. We will notify volunteers of any opportunities as they become available. We will be in touch with an update as soon as it is available.