Researchers say a melon-headed whale that was euthanized after it was found beached in Gulf Shores last week suffered a severe respiratory infection.
Researchers at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab’s Alabama Marine Mammal Stranding Network announced Monday that they had performed the necropsy to determine what caused the animal to struggle to swim and breathe.
The animal was found stranded Oct. 6 near the Surfside Shores condos in Gulf Shores. Beachgoers stabilized the whale and held its blowhole above water until marine wildlife officials arrived and determined it needed to be euthanized.
Melon-headed whales are small and resemble dolphins, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Officials say beachgoers should never push stranded animals back into the water but should instead call a 24-hour hotline at 1-877-whale-help.