Despite Sea World's Rescue Efforts, Beached Whale Dies

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Rocky, the ailing young whale that drew sympathy and help from beach-goers after washing ashore at Newport Beach, died Sunday morning at Sea World in San Diego.

A team of experts worked through the night, monitoring the whale's pulse and keeping him upright in a shallow holding tank so he could breathe through his blowhole, said Tom Goff, Sea World's mammal curator. But the whale died in the morning.

"We tried to do everything we possibly could as human beings and then, after all we did, we had to rely on modern medicine to do what it could, I guess to no avail," said Don Crawford, 29, a Newport Beach radio station manager who was among the first to find the whale just after dawn Saturday.

Crawford named the 13 1/2-foot, 1,338-pounder Rocky because he was banging into the rocks of a jetty. Crawford and a few lifeguards pushed him out into the ocean, but when the whale washed ashore again, they spent nearly eight hours petting and talking to him and draping him with wet cloths to keep his skin moist.

Sea World workers who came to transport Rocky on Saturday afternoon said the beached minke--one of the smaller species of baleen whale--was underweight, dehydrated and malnourished.

"You just knew the guy was suffering, that he wanted to be out there in the water. You wanted to put your heart out to him and help any way you could," Crawford said.

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