Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network

Dedicated to the conservation of marine mammals through rescue and rehabilitation, research and education.



Species: Pygmy Sperm Whale, Kogia breviceps
Age Class: Calf
Gender: Female
Date of Stranding: September 5, 2005
Location of Stranding: Bolivar Peninsula, TX
Duration of care at TMMSN:
Final Disposition: Deceased

On September 5, 2005, a very young female pygmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps), weighing just over 80 lbs. and approximately 4 1/2 ft. in length, stranded alive on Bolivar Peninsula.

It was reported as a mother and calf pair with the calf originally stranding first. The calf was initially pushed back by a beachgoer, after which both the mother and calf stranded again. Other beachgoers pushed both the mother and calf back out into the water. The TMMSN was then informed of the situation and responded immediately.

The calf was first seen at around 3pm on the beach and the page came in at around 5pm. We formed a rescue team and went out on the search for the animals knowing that they would more than likely strand again. We drove the beaches for miles until finally, just before dark, we found the calf in the surf with the mother nowhere to be found.

As adults they can grow up to 12 feet in length and weigh up to 1,000 lbs. The young calf sustained several shark bites and respirations remained high during the transport and throughout the night. Throughout consultation with many facilities, which have done extensive research in trying to improve the animals odds of survival, we found that they have been unsuccessful in their rehabilitation efforts of the Kogia species, including calves. Currently there are no animals of the Kogia species that are in captivity, therefore in the event that the animal did make it, there would not be a permanent placement facility and due to age, release would not be an option.

We continued to look for the mother, but she has not been seen in the area again. Through much research and consultation, we exhausted all options for the little calf and found that it was in the best interest of the animal to make a very tough decision to euthanize. This of course, is never an easy decision to make for any of us however, it was one that needed to be made for the sake of the animal and her quality of life.