Crews working to discover whale’s cause of death in Marco Island marina

Reporter: Elizabeth Biro Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

For hours crews worked to save a whale stuck and stranded in a marina, but unfortunately, the sea creature died later that day.

Since the whale’s carcass wasn’t recovered, there will be no necropsy to determine the cause of death, but there are some possibilities that experts can likely rule out.

WINK News spoke with Dan High, the general manager for Rose Marina, who saw something unusual that caught his eye on Wednesday.

“There was some commotion with a few sheriff’s boats and FWC boats in right off our docks. And turned out they were tracking a whale,” High said.

It was either a dwarf sperm whale or a pygmy sperm whale.

Bob McConville, one of the first on the scene and the lead naturalist for the 10,000 Island Study Program said it was initially mistaken for a dolphin due to its smaller size.

“Called FWC immediately, when we realized that we were looking at a whale that was not acting normally and is close to the shoreline,” McConville said, “and my contact at FWC got on her phone immediately and got the cavalry down.”

A nearby Collier Sheriff’s boat stood guard, ensuring other boats would not interfere with the animal until help arrived. Teams from FWC, Rookery Bay and the Sheriff’s Office worked for hours to rescue the rare species. Alas, the whale did not survive.

One witness said the animal sank, making a necropsy impossible.

Experts said human interactions are a leading factor in whale deaths, from sinking ships or entanglement with ropes or fishing gear. However, the whale did no have any visible signs of harm.

“We didn’t see any signs of physical injury … where we’re taking our photos, so– but something was definitely wrong to see a whale sitting at the surface like that,” McConville said.

There’s no timeline on whether the animal would be retrieved.

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