PALM COAST, FLORIDA — An orca died shortly after a member of the public spotted the whale beached on a sandbar on Wednesday morning. The whale was an adult female measuring over 21 feet in length and weighing over 6,000 pounds, according to News4Jax.
FIRST RECORDED INCIDENT IN FLORIDA
A spokesperson for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the event is “extremely rare” and Wednesday represents the first recorded incident of a killer whale getting stranded in the state of Florida, or anywhere in the Southeast.
NOAA official Blair Mase believes the orca was around six years old and is unsure why the whale became separated from her pod. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation (FWC) officials and SeaWorld biologists were on the scene, assisting with removal and initiating the necropsy process. The whale was transported to SeaWorld for examination.
FISH OUT OF WATER
Known as killer whales, orcas are considered the ocean’s top predator. They are most abundant in colder waters such as those in Antarctica, Alaska and Norway, but can in rare instances be seen in warmer waters, according to NOAA.
The beached female found on Wednesday died very young, as the typical female lives to be around 50 years old and wild orcas can even reach 90 years in age.