A melon-headed whale that beached itself at Maracas Bay yesterday had to be euthanised by veterinarians after they spent hours trying to put it back into the sea.
It is the fifth melon-headed whale to beach itself over the past several days.
On Monday in Moruga, four melon-headed whales beached themselves—three were found dead and one was led successfully back into the ocean.
According to the Trinidad and Tobago Marine Mammal Stranding Network (TTMMSN), the animal was first spotted around 3 am yesterday.
Several groups from the network, including the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) marine biologists led by Professor Reia Guppy, University of West Indies, School of Veterinary Medicine team of students and staff led by Dr Carla Phillips Savage, Marine Mammals and Aquatic medicine, Dr. Wade Seukeran of Tenderheart Animals, fishermen and volunteers tried unsuccessfully to put the animal back into the water.
Around 10 am, several lifeguards towed the animal into the water, staying with it for over two hours until Dr Phillips Savage and her team arrived.
The whale was then carried ashore for an assessment and an area of the beach had to be cordoned off, as curious beachgoers crowded to get a glimpse of the animal.
However, despite their best efforts, the vets eventually decided to euthanise the whale by anaesthetic injection as they said it would have drowned if it was pushed back into the water.
A necropsy will be performed by the School of Veterinary Medicine to investigate the cause of stranding in the coming days and the TTMMSN said those results will be released to the public.
Earlier this week TTMMSN’s Dr Wade Seukaran told Guardian Media that the network had responded to several reports of stranded melon-headed whales at various coastlines and after necropsies were done, the animals were found to have died from a disease.
He warned the public not to touch the whales if they are spotted, saying that trying to push them back into the water could do more harm than good.
Seukaran also warned that the marine animals that wash ashore are typically ill and could be harbouring infectious organisms that may be harmful to humans or other animals.