Juvenile sei whale euthanized in Kitty Hawk

By on January 26, 2023

(Courtesy of NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island)

1/27/23: Update on sei whale stranded in Kitty Hawk

1/26/23: The NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island reports that a juvenile sei whale that was discovered on the shore in Kitty Hawk on Thursday, Jan. 26 had to be euthanized.

Here are the details.

On Jan. 26 at 1:30 p.m., a report was received of a live sei whale in Kitty Hawk, NC. The whale was 678 cm in length (about 22 ft). It’s a small juvenile whale, possibly born during the most recent breeding cycle. Partners in the OBX Marine Mammal Stranding Network responded to assess and ultimately euthanize the whale.

The whale will be secured overnight, and a necropsy will be conducted Friday, Jan. 27. Necropsy will be conducted by team members from NCWRC, NC Aquarium/ Jennette’s Pier, NC State CMAST, NC DMF, UNCW, and the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Center. The cause of the stranding isn’t known yet, but the team hopes that the necropsy exam will provide some information.

Since 2002, there have been three sei whale strandings along the Atlantic Coast of the Southeast Region (all three were in North Carolina). The most recent stranding was in January 2019 in Hanover County, NC.

The sei whale is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The species is also designated as depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The total population of sei whales in all U.S. waters is unknown.

Sei whales grow to 40 to 60 feet.


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  • Leslie

    That baby whale is still very much alive! An all call should have been sent out for people to help it go back to the ocean, live or die.
    Letting an endangered species lay on the beach to die without help is sad!!
    No one knows why it was on the beach and to assume it was sick is premature and reckless.

    Thursday, Jan 26 @ 9:04 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Leslie, we should find out the condition of the whale when the necropsy is done tomorrow.

    Thursday, Jan 26 @ 9:40 pm
  • Thea ONeil

    Why was this whale euthanized?!? Was there even an effort to save it? I went to see it at 7:00 pm and it was still VERY much alive, just sad and struggling. I would appreciate more details about this and would hope that Dare County would be more prepared to handle situations like this and try to save endangered species instead of killing them.

    Thursday, Jan 26 @ 9:39 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Thea, we are awaiting an update from the aquarium. Will post new info as soon as we have it.

    Friday, Jan 27 @ 9:32 am
  • Just a mom

    I agree Leslie.
    Being a farmer and a breeder of animals… at all cost… without pride or arrogance beg for help (whether it is by hand or intellectual knowledge on the matter) to aid in the survival of the innocent and then if there is no other way end the suffering.
    I think enough hands and minds could have helped that baby somehow, someway back to water even if death came to it there. It has zero chance in the position it was in on beach. I am sorry baby.

    Thursday, Jan 26 @ 9:53 pm
  • Thea ONeil

    I don’t want to wait for the results of the necropsy, I want to know WHY the decision was made to euthanize! Journalism requires details… And the fact that this whale was left to die is infuriating as much a as d heartbreaking!

    Thursday, Jan 26 @ 9:55 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    We will post an update as soon as we get one from the aquarium.

    Friday, Jan 27 @ 9:33 am
  • Tom Jones

    Join us on Defend Brigantine Beach on FB. We must cooperate to put an immediate halt to these deadly, massive intrusions of hypersonic geotechnical surveys in preparation of 1000+ feet tall wind turbines! The planned industrialization of our God given oceans is not for sale to foreign companies to profit from at our expense!

    Friday, Jan 27 @ 1:00 am
  • Billsnc

    Do otherwise healthy whales beach themselves? Maybe disorientation or other issues from sonar pings from subs or other vessels?

    Friday, Jan 27 @ 12:02 pm