Rescued Beach Whale Identified as a Pygmy Killer Whale
Another development in the case of the beached whale recently rescued from a barrier island in the Mississippi Sound. Researchers at the rescuing agency, the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, or IMMS, in Gulfport, have determined the species of that beached whale is actually a pygmy killer whale. Initially, it appeared the whale was a melon headed whale, a close cousin of the pygmy killer whale.
IMMS leaders say the two- to three-year-old rescued whale had so many scars and injuries when it was discovered that at first it looked like a melon headed whale, and it also had not yet fully developed its adult features. Regardless, IMMS President and Executive Director Dr. Moby Solangi and other researchers say the recovering whale has provided the rare opportunity for scientists studying the rash of dolphin and turtle deaths along the Gulf Coast this year, including nearly 200 dolphins in Mississippi alone. Experts say the back-to-back openings of the Bonnet Carre Spillway appear to be the reason for the spike in deaths of local marine life.
Meanwhile, research continues as the young pygmy killer whale’s injuries and condition continue to improve while under the care of the IMMS.