Animal Cruelty: Swimmers Ride Dying Whale in Florida

News

By: / December 21, 2012

Here’s one from the bizarro world.

Federal officials are currently investigating reports of swimmers harassing a dying sperm whale as it was close to death near a South Florida beach. The whale came close to the coast of Pompano Beach this past Sunday afternoon.

A resident snapped the photos of two swimmers trying to ride the distressed whale and made a report to authorities

CBS News Reports:
Her testimony could land those beachgoers in hot water, as close encounters of this kind are illegal under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Blair Mase, NOAA’s southeast marine mammal stranding coordinator, explained to LiveScience.

Mase said wildlife officials didn’t know about the whale-riding report at the time of a preliminary examination of the dead animal. But she said they did notice “some unusual markings” on the underweight, not-quite full-grown female whale. [The 10 Strangest Animal Discoveries]

Sperm whales are common in deeper, offshore waters in the region and, on average, just one to two strandings occur per year, Mase said. When the whales get so close to the shore, that’s usually a sign that they’re sick or injured — and it certainly doesn’t help to be mounted by a human.

“Harassing a whale in a state like this could lead to its demise,” Mase said, noting that approaching such a powerful, unpredictable animal could also spell serious danger for humans.

While police are taking charge of investigating the whale-riding report, researchers could provide a clearer picture of what happened to the whale by examining its body. By Monday, the carcass had washed ashore near a pier at Deerfield Beach. Wanting to keep the unsightly corpse away from the touristy area, local officials had wildlife specialists tow it about a mile out to sea Monday afternoon.