ANASTASIA ISLAND, Fla. - Two pygmy sperm whales that washed onto the beach at Anastasia Island State Park on Sunday have died.
Beachgoers spotted the animals around 6 p.m. and called authorities.
"They're a common strander for Florida. When they do strand, there's a reason," said Nadia Gordon, of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "We always ask individuals, if you come across an animal like this, don't push it back. It's an instinct that they want to push it back into the water, but that's the worst thing you can do."
The mom -- about 14 feet long -- died. The 4-foot-long calf was still alive when wildlife officers arrived but was euthanized because it was not old enough to survive on its own, Local 6 News partner WJXT-TV in Jacksonville reported.
"The calf was dependent on mom. These are offshore species," Gordon said. "The calf would need to learn more from mom before being able to survive in the wild. Rehab is difficult with a young calf dependent on mom."
Authorities will take the carcasses to Marineland in southern St. Johns County where a necropsies will be performed by the FWC as well as the Georgia Aquarium to try an determine why the marine mammals beached themselves.