It is uncertain whether lifeguards or beachgoers first noticed the struggling sea mammal, but after sending off pictures and video of the animal to the necessary experts, everyone sprung into action.
“Once SeaWorld received the video, they instructed those present that the best thing to do for the whale was to dig a hole, fill it with water and keep the animal comfortable,” said Lt. Rich Stropky, of San Diego Lifeguards. “As soon as we received information, we directed communications to SeaWorld. Since they had already received information as well, they instructed us that they had a 15 minute ETA.”
The volunteers got the animal comfortable until the rescue team arrived, even going so far as to protect the animal’s eyes from the glare of the sun with an umbrella. Children also aided in the rescue, trotting back-and-forth from the water’s edge with buckets full of water to keep the whale stable.
Reports from SeaWorld have detailed the animal as a “few-weeks-old female pygmy sperm whale.” Seeing this kind of sea mammal stranded on this beach in this area of San Diego is apparently a rare sight.
According to Stropky, a SeaWorld rescue team arrived within 45 minutes following the call, and then transported it to their Animal Health and Rescue Center.
“It was really a cool scene,” said Stropky. “It was a great effort by the community, who were all very concerned for the animal’s safety.”
Shortly after the rescue, lifeguards claim to have spotted a whale off the coast of the Shores splashing with its tail.
“To think that whale could be the infant’s mother, is just heartbreaking,” said Stropky. “Fortunately, the whale was rescued from the Shores, transported and is hopefully recovering well.”
Checking in on the whale’s progress, David Koontz, SeaWorld communications director, said “Our veterinarians and animal-care specialists continue to provide her rehabilitative care. The female calf, only weeks old, remains in a critical and guarded condition in a pool at our Oiled Wildlife Care Center which is part of our Animal Health and Rescue Center.
“This is an extremely critical period for the calf and it is too early to determine her long-term prognosis. In consultation with National Marine Fisheries Service, SeaWorld’s animal care staff continues to evaluate the young whale’s overall health. The calf is also being fed a cetacean baby milk formula every three to four hours. She weighs approximately 85 pounds and is 4.5 feet long.”