A sperm whale that became stranded on a sandbank at a popular beach near Perth, Western Australia on the weekend has died.
Officials from the Parks and Wildlife Service of Western Australia confirmed the 15-meter (49-feet) long whale died Tuesday morning after it swam off the sandbank into open water.
“It was moving pretty gingerly and swam only 200 or 300 meters before it really seemed to sort of stop. Its respiration gave us some signs that it really was coming to the end,” said Mark Cugley, Incident Controller from the Parks and Wildlife Service.
The whale appeared on Saturday at Rockingham Beach, where people swam close to it, touching it and taking selfies.
The whale would already have been in distress on Saturday when it arrived at the beach and the interaction with people may have increased its stress, government marine mammal expert Kelly Waples said Monday.
“Sperm whales are pelagic animals, that means they live offshore in deep water and that’s where they forage and spend their time,” Waples said. “It is pretty unusual to see them this close to shore.”
The whale swam out to sea after that interaction Saturday, but was found on Monday stranded on a sandbar nearby “thin, emaciated and in a place it doesn’t belong,” Waples said.
“It’s come into this area in very poor health and its very unlikely to survive.”
Authorities had considered euthanizing the whale before finding it dead.
According to a statement from the Parks and Wildlife Service of Western Australia, rangers will now move the 30-tonne carcass to a “more secure location in the water, away from the beach,” which remains closed.