Sei whales are listed as endangered.
A plastic bag was reportedly discovered in the throat of an approximately 17-foot, endangered sei whale that recently washed ashore on a North Carolina beach.
The whale was found on Sunday on Masonboro Island, WECT-6 are reported. Officials with the University of North Carolina-Wilmington marine mammal Stranding Program were then called to the scene.
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Ann Pabst, a member of the marine mammal Stranding Program and professor of marine biology at the university, told WECT-6 the find of a sei whale stranded in North Carolina is “rare.”
The sea creature appeared to be unhealthy and underweight. His apparent situation led officials with UNCW and an official with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association to decide it would be most humane to euthanize the whale.
“This animal was very, very thin. It was not with her mother, that it should have been. No food in the stomach, it was clear that this animal was not eating, while,” Pabst told the news station.
A necropsy, an animal autopsy, performed on the whale turned out to be a plastic bag was lodged in her throat, WWAY News reported, quoting William McLellan, coordinator of the stranding program.
“It was not in a position to food in the mouth, so we are not quite sure when that happened,” McLellan said, pointing to the necropsy showed the whale had seaweed in her throat. McLellan added the researchers have “collected a lot of samples for viral analysis and bacteriology” to determine why that was the case.
While it is not clear whether the plastic was the cause of the sei whale’s death, “it certainly didn’t help the animal in its weakened state,” Pabst told WECT-6.
Nature photographer Robbie Johnson took to Facebook to share a video of the whale before it was euthanized.
“Urgent. In need of help,” he the subtitles in the video, which had more than 37,000 views as of Thursday afternoon.
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“This is not a face I wanted to see at Masonboro,” Johnson says in the video.
Sei whales, which are listed as an endangered species, are known for their speed, according to the World wildlife Fund, and noticed they can travel up to 30 miles per hour. They weigh an average of 20 tons and can grow up to 66 meters in length.