Gulfport, MS (WKRG)
We’re learning more about a melon-headed whale that was beached in Fort Morgan this weekend. Marine scientists say the whale is in critical condition right now. The whale is recovering right now but no matter what happens, this is a good chance to study a whale people rarely get to see. The melon-headed whale is in a tank right now at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport. It seemed a little disoriented. They say that’s not unusual considering it has gone from a large body of water to a small tank. The whale is also ill.
“Instead of dying or drowning in deep water they tend to want to come to shallow water to save themselves this is unique because this animal is very very far away from their habitat,” said the director of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies Dr. Moby Solangi. They’re doing what they can to make sure this animal can make it back out into the wild eventually. They say this is the third whale to be beached along the Gulf Coast this year.
This is the second melon headed whale found along the coast of Alabama this week alone. The first one didn’t survive transport. Officials are hopeful they can get this whale back to health and back out in the wild. They also want to learn as much as they can. They believe this is not an isolated incident.
“There are a lot of pressures on the Gulf,” said Dr. Solangi. “A few years ago we had the BP oil spill, that’s still going to be a part of the equation, we had heavy rain and we had Katrina and the largest dead zone in history.” Officials here say marine mammals are like a canary in a coal mine. Live ones can give them an idea of what’s happening in the Gulf environment. Officials say it’s possible this male was part of a large group of whales. It’s possible more whales could wash up during the week.