UPDATE (Aug. 15, 12:40 p.m. PT) — A juvenile humpback whale was euthanized Thursday after washing ashore near Waldport the day prior, according to the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation.
A team with the Oregon State University-based Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network was working to relieve the 20-foot whale’s stress by keeping it wet and digging out around it, but the whale did not return to the ocean during two high tides.
Contractors with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) arrived early Thursday to evaluate the whale’s health and assess whether to wait for additional high tides, assist it back to the ocean in some way or euthanize the animal.
Bruce Mate, director of the Marine Mammal Institute at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center, said the animal was too small to live on its own.
Mate said NOAA contractors took blood and measured the animal’s stress level, taking efforts to keep the animal comfortable.
“A number of our students from the Hatfield Marine Science Center and volunteers were there from midday yesterday all the way to this morning,” Mate said on Thursday. “They’ve covered it in towels to keep the animal as cool as possible.”
Mate estimated that the whale is less than a year old, probably around 7 or 8 months old.
“It’s prior to weaning and is at a size we would consider would have to be dependent on a mother,” he said.
In a news release, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department reminded coastal visitors to respect wildlife and give all marine mammals at least 150 feet of space in all directions.