Two swimmers were seen climbing on top of a Sperm whale that died just hours later off a beach in Florida.
Although it's likely that the whale was already ill or injured at the time of the incident, officials from NOAA are looking into reports that two swimmers were seen getting onto the 10.6m/35' female whale while it was still alive earlier on Sunday, just off Pompano Beach.
A resident photographed two swimmers apparently trying to ride the distressed creature (see pictures in news report video below).
"This whale was likely ill or injured and that is why it came in so close to shore," Blair Mase, NOAA's southeast regional stranding coordinator told NBC Miami. "This type of harassment could have caused more harm and added stress to an already stressed whale and ultimately caused its demise."
She added that it's illegal to harass a marine mammal. Sperm whales are an endangered species.
The exact cause of death of this specimen, which died on Sunday (December 16) before finally washing up against the Deerfield Beach International Fishing Pier the following day, is still unknown. The picture above shows Mike Brown, of Deerfield Beach Ocean Rescue, tying a rope around the carcass.
You can see the NBC news report below:
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