Sperm Whale Beached, Dies in Western Australia Shortly After Swimming With Humans

An endangered sperm whale that was recently spotted swimming at a beach in Western Australia has died after becoming beached on a sandbar. Wildlife officials say that the whale was elderly and sick. However, they are still attempting to learn more about what caused the whale to become stranded.

Shortly before the sperm whale beached itself, it was spotted swimming at a beach near Perth in Western Australia. There, multiple beachgoers were filmed approaching and even stroking the whale. It is not advised for people to approach or touch marine wildlife as these interactions pose risks to both the animals and humans.

Wildlife officials say at the time the elderly sperm whale was first spotted, the whale was already demonstrating concerning behaviors, such as swimming close to shore and in tight circles. It eventually returned to deeper waters but wildlife officials warned the public it was at risk of stranding and advised them to avoid it.

A few days after being spotted, the sperm whale beached itself on a sandbar near Rockingham beach. The beach was closed to the public and officials tried to save the whale. However, ultimately the elderly sperm whale passed away.

The whale’s carcass will be removed to avoid attracting sharks. Until then, officials have advised beachgoers to refrain from swimming in the area. Officials also plan to perform post-mortem analysis to determine what caused the whale’s demise.

The whale’s passing was honored with a vigil that included a smoking ceremony performed by an indigenous group. The ceremony “included sharing whale dreaming stories, song, and dance” according to a post from Parks and Wildlife Service, Western Australia.

Sperm Whales are found in deep oceans around the world. Their populations suffered significantly due to widespread whaling. However, they are slowly beginning to see population gains according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. However, they remain listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

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This article by Willow Lynn was first published by One Green Planet on 15 December 2023. Image Credit :Cavan-Images/Shutterstock.

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