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Plastic Bag Leads to Death of a Young Beaked Whale off Florida's East Coast

June 06, 2019

Biologists with the Florida Atlantic University Harbor Branch Marine Mammal Stranding Team responded to a dead whale reported Sunday off Ft. Pierce.

HBOI-1902-Mm necropsy photos (56) (1).JPG

The dead whale was recovered in order for biologists to perform a necropsy (non-human autopsy) to try and determine the cause of death.  

The young female was about 11 feet long, weighing less than 600 pounds. She was emaciated. 

HBOI-1902-Mm necropsy photos (2).JPG

Dead beaked whale

Upon further examination, a plastic bag was discovered inside the whale's stomach. The bag was keeping food from getting through the animals' intestinal tract. As a result she died of starvation.

HBOI-1902-Mm head.jpg


The death of this young whale serves as an important reminder; trash no matter how big or small can have severe impacts to marine life. Please make sure your trash is securely disposed of in the proper receptacle, NOT in the ocean. If boating please make sure lose items are secure and not able to fly out of the vessel before moving.  

For more on beaked whales, please visit our website.  

Stranding response conducted under a Stranding Agreement between NOAA Fisheries Service and FAU Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.  

Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on June 06, 2019