NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Emergency Services crews were called to reports of two beached whales near Kingston Plantation just south of North Myrtle Beach Thursday morning. Beach-goers covered the whales with wet towels and set up umbrellas to keep them out of the direct sun.
“You could tell everybody wanted to help, everybody was working together concerned about it but at the same time gave space for the authorities to do what they needed to do,” visitor Alan Blyweiss said. However, scientists say when a whale strands itself, it’s better to make it uncomfortable there than trying to put it back in the water because it exposes it to surf and possible shark attacks.
“If you see a stranded animal you generally do not want to push it back on shore. you can try to keep it comfortable with wet towels and put some shade over it and that’s your better solution,” South Carolina Marine Screening Network Rob Young said.
Beach Patrol officers said witnesses told them a whale gave birth and then went back into the ocean. However, Coastal Carolina University Marine Expert clarifies that the whale did not actually give birth, but was most likely coming on shore because she was sick and recognized that she was dying.
“A whale like this that strands the adult, whales don’t strand normally. Dolphins don’t strand normally, if they do somethings wrong and they’re typically sick and dying. Pushing it back to shore back out to sea doesn’t usually work, they just come right back into shore,” South Carolina Marine Screening Network Rob Young said.
The calf was taken with biologists to CCU where they examined and decided to euthanize it later that day.
NOAA Officials say the animal is a dependent calf and without its mother it would not survive in the wild on its own. Also, SC does not have any marine mammal rehabilitation centers so release would be the only other option. Blair Mase with NOAA says “releasing a dependent calf would not be considered a humane option as it would need its mother for protection and nutrition.”
Necropsies will now be performed for both animals to determine a cause of death.