Sweet Pea Animal Hospital’s Sam Blake and Rob McMahon assisted in efforts to save a stranded melon-headed whale at Blueys Beach last weekend.
Also on the scene were workers from National Parks and Wildlife Services and ORRCA Whale and Dolphin Rescue.
“Rob was called to make an assessment of the stranded whale after several unsuccessful attempts had been made to get him back into deeper water. The swell was too rough to attempt to put him back in the water there, so transporting him to Elizabeth Beach via vehicle was the only real option, if we were to attempt a release,” practice manager Sam explained.
Sam said the animal had several scrapes and scratches on its head and fins, a likely result of floundering around in the shallow water.
“His prognosis was guarded and the move would have been extremely traumatic, and quite likely unsuccessful. So the very sad, but unanimous decision was made to euthanase him where he lay.”
Sam added the tendency of melon-headed whales to mass strand was a factor in the decision to remove the animal from the water, in the hope of avoiding a mass stranding.
“He was originally mistakenly identified as a pygmy killer whale, who are known to mass strand, but as it turns out, melon-headed whales are amongst the most common species to mass strand,” she said.
Sam explained despite the sad outcome, the situation was handled with dignity, with the animal’s best interests at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
“So often, in these types of situations, human ego gets in the way and can cause all good efforts to unravel. Today was not like this at all. It was heartwarming to see everyone working together with only the best interest of this beautiful creature in mind. Congratulations to all involved. A very sad outcome but a very dignified and ethical process.”