Florida marine scientists say it was too late to save a juvenile humpback whale that died after beaching itself in the Fort Pierce inlet.
The 25-foot whale was still alive when it was found by four fisherman flounder gigging around 10:30 p.m. Monday, TC Palm reports, but expired overnight. The species is endangered.
"Something must have been wrong for it to come to shore," Blair Mase, a federal marine mammal stranding coordinator, told TC Palm. "It was thin and in poor body condition."
According to WPTV, researchers from the Fish and Wildlife Commission and FAU marine programs suspect the whale had an infection, citing very little food in its stomach and a severely underweight showing at 5,000 pounds.
"We kinda figured he was doomed from the beginning. You want to help, but what can you really do, you know?" said Jon Langel, one of the fisherman who found the whale, to WPTV.
The whale, one of five to beach itself in Florida in the last five years, underwent a necropsy and before the carcass will be towed out to sea. Officials said the results should be known in a few weeks.
"It is not common to have a fresh specimen," Mase said. "We should be able to learn a lot from it."