Second sperm whale found dead in Florida Keys

KEY WEST, Fla. — A sperm whale was found dead in the waters just east of Key West on Tuesday, the second to die within a week in the Florida Keys, state and federal officials said.

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Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers said that an adult male beached itself on Tuesday north of Mud Key, located about 15 miles northeast of Key West, the Miami Herald reported.

On May 4, a juvenile sperm whale that was separated from its mother died after reaching shore near Key Largo, according to the Key West Citizen. The young whale had an injury to its head and its swimming was “labored,” Art Cooper, who oversees the Key Largo-based Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Responder, told the newspaper.

A team of biologists from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Marine Mammal Responder unit reached the adult whale on Mud Key on Tuesday and will perform a necropsy, WPLG-TV reported.

Male sperm whales can grow up to 52 feet and weigh up to 45 tons, the FWC said on its website. Their brain is the largest of any animal.

Kelly Richmond, a spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said the whale is 47 feet long.

“We just started a necropsy on the animal now,” Richmond told the Herald on Wednesday. “It will likely take the better part of a day, and even then, we might not have all the results.”

Casey Taylor, the general manager at Robbie’s Boat Yard in Key West, said the whale’s carcass will be placed in the water after the necropsy and towed offshore to allow “nature to take its course,” WPLG reported.