OAK ISLAND, N.C. (WECT) – Marine experts performed a necropsy on a young sperm whale Friday that had washed up close to the shore in Oak Island.
“We know why the animal was there, in a general sense. It was lost from its social group, it was very far from home, it was a young animal that was on its own when it shouldn’t have been, and wasn’t feeding, and wasn’t able to take care of itself, and found itself unfortunately on a sandbar in Oak Island,” said Dr. Ann Pabst with UNCW’s Marine Mammal Stranding Program.
The animal autopsy revealed the animal was very thin and emaciated, leading researchers to believe it had not been successfully feeding for some time.
They also learned the whale’s liver suggested the whale was not metabolizing nutrients and that it’s stomach and fore-stomach were very expanded. Its lungs were highly congested and had abnormally firm kidneys.
The necropsy results go on to state the whale had propeller marks on the dorsal part o fits head, but these had healed and were not likely a contributing factor to the stranding. There was no other evidence of human contact.
The researchers are in contact with NOAA and are sending tissues for samplings within the week. They will be testing for morbillivirus and histopathology.
“We hope with the histopathology that we can better describe the condition of the organs,” Pabst said.
It will likely take a couple weeks before the test results come back.