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Endangered sei whale stranded on beaches of Outer Banks

The aquarium said the whale was a juvenile, possibly born during the most recent breeding cycle.
Credit: North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island

KITTY HAWK, N.C. — A 22-foot whale beached itself on the shores of the Outer Banks Thursday afternoon.

According to the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, the sei whale was reported in Kitty Hawk at around 1:30 p.m.

The Aquarium said the whale was a juvenile, possibly born during the most recent breeding cycle.

Officials with the OBX Marine Mammal Stranding Network responded to the beach and ultimately determined it should be euthanized. However, the Aquarium said on Friday that while the whale was given sedatives and pain relief, it remained alive, although unaware of its surroundings.

“The response team did an excellent job with this juvenile, yet very large whale,” said Dr. Craig Harms from the Department of Clinical Sciences at N.C. State University’s Center for Marine Sciences and Technology (CMAST). “They exhausted all efforts to make the animal comfortable, while expertly knowing when to stop administering medications so that potential scavengers and the environment would be protected. Our team takes comfort in knowing that the whale was made comfortable for as long as possible.”

The whale was moved from its spot overnight by the high tide and crews were unable to locate the animal Friday morning.

The Aquarium said the whale is likely dead by now and may wash back ashore along the Outer Banks over the next few days.

Sei whales are an endangered species and are also designated as a depleted species under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The sei whale is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

If you find a live or dead stranded marine mammal, North Carolina Aquariums say to stay back at a safe distance and call your local experts. On the Outer Banks, that number is 252-455-9654.

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