Authorities to determine if whale euthanized off NC island was intentionally hurt

Screen shot from video of the whale Kenneth Wayne Hayes posted on Facebook.
Screen shot from video of the whale Kenneth Wayne Hayes posted on Facebook.

A sperm whale that beached itself near Oak Island Thursday morning had to be euthanized, despite crowds of concerned onlookers doing their best to help the animal.

The team examining the whale said there were injuries. If they determine someone intentionally hurt the whale they will reach out to authorities, reported media outlets.

A necropsy - an animal autopsy - is planned for Friday on the beach, media outlets reported.

The sperm whale was young and weighed between 25,000 and 30,000 pounds. The whale was emaciated and “not doing well,” marine biologist Bill McLellan told the Wilmington Star News earlier in the day. McLellan is a biologist with UNC Wilmington.

NC Marine Patrol said they received a call around 9 a.m. and called the UNCW biology team for help.

When the biologists arrived shortly after noon, they were able to identified it as a male sperm whale. Video filmed and posted on Facebook shows it was bleeding in the water when they got to the beach.

The whale’s skin had been cut and it had lost a significant amount of blood, it was reported.

“Sperm whales are not supposed to be here, so its prospects are not good” for survival, McLelland told the Star-News. “They’re supposed to be 100 miles off shore.”

NC Marine Patrol reported getting a call about the whale at 9 a.m. Thursday, reported TV station WWAY. Biologists were summoned to determine why it washed up and intended to move the whale, the station reported.

It washed close to shore near East 22nd Street in Oak Island Thursday morning, and a couple of hundred people were surrounding the whale just before noon, using towels to keep the whale wet, the TV station reported. Low tide is around 12:30 p.m.

The animal infrequently tried to roll over or thrash its tail, reported the Star News.

Videos posted of the whale on Facebook received thousands of views per hour on Thursday morning.