WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY)– UNCW’s Marine Mammal Stranding Program jumped to action yesterday morning after reports of a 17 foot whale had washed onshore. After an investigation, experts just couldn’t save it.
North Carolina State Stranding Coordinator William McLellan says the sei whale is rare to our coast and must have traveled miles before landing on Masonboro Island.
The sei whale is an endangered species. McLellan says the whale looked terribly emaciated so, he knew immediately something was wrong. After a necropsy, the researchers found bundles of plastic bag remnants and sea grass caught in the whale’s throat McLellan says safely euthanizing the whale was the most ethical thing to do.
“It wasn’t able to get food into the mouth so, we are not quite sure when that happened,” McLellan said. “It was either early on and it started the animal debilitating process or the animal could have been debilitated. We have collected a bunch of samples for viral analysis and bacteriology.”
The Surfrider Foundation advocates for clean beaches across the Cape Fear. Marketing Manager Amanda Jacobs says plastics are getting out of control.
“It’s incredibly sad,” said Jacobs. “Mammals washing up on our beaches. It’s just terrible and it’s totally preventable. That’s the thing. We can totally prevent this. This did not need to happen.”
Jacobs says we need to focus on reducing our one-time plastics.
“Now we are doing many more beach sweeps, beach clean-ups and a lot more educating in schools about not using plastics and reducing the use,” she said.