Pygmy sperm whale euthanized after being stranded ashore in Malibu

A pygmy sperm whale was euthanized after it was stranded Sunday at Malibu Surfrider Beach.
(Los Angeles County Lifeguards)

A pygmy sperm whale that washed ashore Sunday in Malibu had to be euthanized, the California Wildlife Center said.

Los Angeles County lifeguards and fire personnel rescued the beached whale around 4:40 p.m. at Malibu Surfrider Beach.

The silver whale had bloody scrapes along its face and body. In photos posted on Twitter by L.A. County lifeguards, rescue personnel can be seen straining to move the animal from the beach.


“The whale was in poor health and had sustained many injuries as a result of hitting against low tide rocks,” the California Wildlife Center said in a statement. “Working with [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] we opted to humanely euthanize the animal, in order to prevent additional suffering.”

The carcass will go to the Natural History Museum for study, the wildlife center said.

Pygmy sperm whales, a species smaller than the type of sperm whale made famous in “Moby-Dick,” are commonly found in temperate waters, including those of the Pacific Northwest, Hawaii, the northern Gulf of Mexico and the North Atlantic, according to NOAA.

The whales are reclusive, avoiding ships and other watercraft, making sightings rare and population estimates difficult for researchers. A 2016 NOAA study estimated the minimum population of pygmy sperm whales in the California-Oregon-Washington region to be 2,000.