GRAND ISLE, La. (KLFY) The whale that washed up on the beach at Grand Isle Saturday was a 6- to 7-year-old juvenile female sperm whale, according to a biologist with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
Mandy Tumlin said the carcass of the 27-foot-long whale initially washed up on a sandbar just off the beach, but work crews used heavy equipment to drag it onto the beach, where biologists conducted a necropsy in an attempt to determine the cause of death.
Sperm whales are found in the Gulf of Mexico, but they usually stay much farther offshore in waters greater than (600 feet) deep,” Tumlin said.
Christopher LeCoq of Baton Rouge, who shot pictures of the whale Saturday soon after it appeared on the sandbar, said the mammal seemed to have died recently. It had no odor, LeCoq said.
Tumlin said tissue samples analyzed over coming weeks would hopefully reveal what caused the whale to perish.
Department staff received a call about the whale from a Grand Isle resident Saturday morning, Tumlin said.
“The initial call was that it was a live dolphin stranded on Grand Isle, but as soon as she got here while she was on the phone with me, she confirmed it was a whale,” Tumlin said.
Sperm whales are endangered and are federally protected, whether dead or alive, according to Tumlin. Any physical interaction with the whale is illegal, she said.
“When we got reports initially about the whale, we were told members of the public were climbing on the animal to take pictures,” she said.