Beached whale dies in Ocean City despite rescue efforts

OCEAN CITY, Md. – A sperm whale that was stranded for almost six hours in Ocean City was pronounced dead by the National Aquarium, Sunday.

Hundreds of people gathered on the beach to get a glimpse of the whale that beached itself. Some people even took it upon themselves to try and help save it.

“I saw something moving back and forth in the water. I was like, ‘Oh my gracious it looks like a whale,'” says Shirley Graves, a Glen Burnie resident vacationing in Ocean City.

Locals and visitors alike couldn’t believe their eyes after a beached whale appeared near 115th Street in Ocean City.

“I was just in disbelief. My friends got here on Friday to visit, they said, ‘Are there any whales in Ocean City?’ And I confidently said, ‘No,'” says Kaycie Dahan, an Ocean City resident.

Ocean City Police quickly arrived on scene and so did plenty of curious spectators. “The crowd has just been crazy. All day long there has been people coming from every single direction, from the streets, from the left, from the right,” says Dahan.

Most of the onlookers were fascinated, taking pictures, posting to social media and anxiously awaiting good news. “I guess to just see the action and what’s going on I think a lot of people are probably concerned,” says Dahan.

But as the hours went by, some people in the crowd grew frustrated with the response time from marine professionals and tried to take matters into their own hands. “He said he was going in and him and a lady were going around to see if other people would help them. And other people did help them like 15 people went into the water,” says Graves.

Officials did what they could to protect the whale because experts say people can stress the whale out or even catch diseases from it. Despite efforts to save the whale, the dreaded news came around 1:30 p.m. when the National Aquarium staff arrived and confirmed it was dead.

“Nineteen years and this is our first time we’ve ever seen this and I hope it’s the last and I’m sorry that it ever happened,” says Diane Nelson, a Baltimore resident who owns a condo in Ocean City.

“It’s kind of just shocking and scary and kind of amazing and beautiful at the same time,” says Dahan.

The National Aquarium did perform an exam on the whale to determine that it was dead but it’s still not clear exactly what caused the whale’s death.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources will now take the lead on removing the whale from the beach and performing a necropsy to learn more about it. The National Aquarium is reminding people to call trained wildlife experts if they ever see an animal in distress. Their stranding hot line is available 24/7 at 410-576-3880.

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