A sperm whale in Florida waters lost its life hours after a swimmer was spotted riding the creature.
The Daily Mail reports that the whale was seen drifting off the coast near Pompano Beach on Sunday while witnesses watched in concern. Blair Mase Mase of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told a local television station that the mammal was most likely so close to the shore due to illness or injury.
Most of the people on the beach were hoping for a positive outcome for the whale, which was seen floating as close as 40 feet from the shoreline. That was not the case with two swimmers who were allegedly seen by a bystander to be harassing the mammal.
According to NBC News, Margie Casey, a 49-year-old resident of Pompano Beach, claims she witnessed both swimmers approach the whale twice. Watching from her fifth-floor balcony, she was able to photograph one of the men getting on top of the distressed creature. Casey says that she felt the whale was still alive at the time due to movement by its tail.
Sperm whales, the largest of the toothed whales, are an endangered species. Although the exact cause of the whale’s death has not been determined, it is against federal law to harass marine mammals. The NOAA plans to look into the incident involving the swimmers, saying:
“This type of harassment could have caused more harm and added stress to an already stressed whale and ultimately caused its demise.”
What do you think about the swimmers’ possible harassment of the dying sperm whale?