The search continued Friday for an orphaned baby sperm whale that has eluded marine officials since Tuesday. A private boater saw the whale about 11 a.m., about 1.3 miles off Pompano Beach, officials said.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission responded to the report, conducting an aerial search without success as far north as Highland Beach and up to 3 miles offshore.
“These are very deep-diving whales,” said Erin Fougeres, a marine mammal biologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The whale was first seen Tuesday at a marina near Biscayne Bay, and surfaced in the Hillsboro Inlet on Thursday before being spotted heading out to open waters. The boater on Friday watched Internet videos of the whale and was certain that was the same one he saw, officials said.
Fougeres said marine officials are interested in keeping boaters away if the whale emerges closer to shore because it already is stressed, injured and malnourished.
However, Fougeres said, it’s unlikely this whale tale will have a happy ending. The young whale doesn’t have the necessary survival skills, and officials don’t have the facilities to care for it if it were captured, meaning euthanization would be considered, she said.
“It’s not very humane to leave the whale out there to starve to death or be attacked by predators,” Fougeres said.