Two weeks after a female pygmy sperm whale and her female calf died after they washed ashore in Jupiter, marine wildlife experts say they will soon conduct tests to figure out not only how the mother died, but how she and her young calf lived.
Although it isn’t clear yet how the 10-foot-long, 1,500-pound mother died, one possibility could be cardiomyopathy, a form of heart disease found in 90 percent of sperm whales stranded on shore, said Steve McCulloch, program manager for Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.
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Pygmy sperm whales
- Can grow to as long as 11½ feet and weigh as much as 700 to 1,500 pounds.
- Live in tropical, subtropical and temperate waters
- Often lie motionless at the surface with the back of the head above water.
- Use an ink-like liquid to evade and deter predators
- Can dive up to at least 1,000 feet for food.
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration