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FIRST ON 3: BHI residents give beached whale fighting chance

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BALD HEAD ISLAND, NC (WWAY) -- "He had a red belly, so I named him Cherry," said 6-year-old Addison Morris who was one of the Bald Head Island residents who tried to rescue a beached whale Sunday morning.

Cherry is a 10-foot pygmy sperm whale. Residents on Bald Head Island found the whale washed up on shore Sunday morning. They immediately rallied together to try to help her back to sea.

"We just did what we could to kind of keep her upright until the tide came up enough that we could push it back into the water."

The whale was in bad shape. Rescuers say she looked sick and injured.

"Maybe from a net or something like that that she had eventually gotten free from and had some lacerations on her side because she was bleeding pretty bad," said Will Morris.

Marine biologists say the whale's injuries are not surprising.

Pygmy sperm whales typically stay far out to sea and are only seen near the beach when they are sick and confused.

Ann Pabst with UNCW’s Marine Mammal Stranding program says a whale, which she believes was the one on Bald Head Island, was spotted floating off the coast. Researchers believe the whale likely did not survive.

Members of UNCW’s marine program say that if you do find an animal in trouble on the shore you should not force it into the water.

They say the local police department can put you in touch with people who can help.

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