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2 Pygmy Killer Whales Die A Week After Beaching Off Sand Key

Officials say two pygmy killer whales have died a week after being found distressed in shallow waters off Sand Key.

Mote Marine Laboratory spokeswoman Stephannie Kettle says one of the females, Lightning, died Wednesday, and the other, Thunder, died Thursday.

Crews from Clearwater Marine Aquarium and Clearwater Fire & Rescue Department moved them from Sand Key to a large truck Aug. 29, so they could be transported to the Mote laboratory in Sarasota. They had been receiving 24-hour critical care.

Kettle says the carcasses will be taken to the University of Florida for necropsies.

Pygmy killer whales look much like dolphins and typically thrive in deeper water. Kettle says it's uncommon for them to come close to shore, so they were likely very sick when they beached themselves.

Mote Marine Laboratory provides underwriting support for WUSF Public Media.

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