Pygmy sperm whale washes ashore in Huntington Beach
On 11/6/23, a pygmy sperm whale washed ashore in Huntington Beach. This was the fourth time a pygmy sperm whale has washed ashore in Orange County in the last 10 years. This species is very rarely seen as they typically inhabit offshore areas of the ocean where the water is at least 4,000 ft. deep. They are also solitary and very small so they would be very difficult to spot swimming around.
The whale that washed ashore here is likely close to fully grown and it's currently unknown why it stranded. Marine mammals will strand if they are dying, have health issues, or have been affected by some types of artificial noise underwater.
It was originally reported that this whale was being attacked by sharks but this was proven false as these pygmy sperm whales are known for thrashing around a lot when in shallow waters or are in the process of stranding. Likely, the witnessed saw the tail/fluke thrashing around and just assumed it was being attacked. The videos of the stranding show no signs of sharks in the area and there were no wounds on the whale caused by recent shark activity. The only wounds on the whale were from scraping against the sand and older bites from cookie cutter sharks which are known for taking small bites out of many types of marine life but don't kill their prey. It is very common for people to hype things up and make things sound more dramatic than they really are. It is unknown why this particular whale stranded but Pacific Marine Mammal Center picked up the animal which was still alive to figure out if it can be saved and returned to the sea.