Pygmy sperm whale dies


The young pygmy sperm whale found stranded Sunday on a Long Island beach died yesterday morning at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, less than 24 hours after its arrival for emergency veterinary care.

Blood tests and cultures taken on Tuesday indicated that the whale, about 3 years old, suffered from an infection and worms in its gastrointestinal tract. In addition, according to aquarium spokeswoman Vicki Aversa, "the whale was unable to digest food, causing it apparent pain and distress."

Several times during a difficult night in the marine mammal hospital isolation pool, the whale rolled over and had its blowhole under water. Volunteers maintaining a constant watch righted the critically ill animal and held it to prevent drowning.

Late in the morning, the whale suffered a seizure and stopped breathing. It died at 11:45 a.m., Ms. Aversa said.

The whale had been flown to Baltimore on a private air taxi paid for by a New Jersey veterinarian, Jacqueline Perkins. "It's always better to try," she said after learning of the death. "I guess the statistics are right -- 90 percent of the [wild] animals you try to save don't make it."

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