21-foot killer whale washes ashore on Florida beach

Beached whale found dead, deputies say

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – A beached 21-foot killer whale was found dead Wednesday morning after washing up on a Florida beach.

The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office said deputies responded to the beach south of Jungle Hut Park in Palm Coast.

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One of the first people to see the whale and report it was Derek Pence, who said he was walking the beach as he does every morning when he saw something in the water.

“When I called I was really hoping for a rescue and not a recovery,” Pence said. “... It appeared it was alive when we first came up on it.”

He said as the whale came in closer with the tide that’s when he called Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

“Just to see this big of an effort is fantastic, I love it and I know they’re struggling, but I really hope they get her off and figure out what happened to her,” Pence said.


Orcas are among the largest and most powerful marine mammals in the ocean.

Due to the large crowds gathering to see the whale, Jungle Hut Road was closed for traffic but has since reopened.

“It’s amazing. It really is. The fact that it’s just such a beautiful animal, to have it happen like this it’s really sad, but at the same time amazing,” said Chris Meehan, a resident of Palm Coast.

According to Dr. Erin Fougeres, administrator of NOAA’s marine mammal stranding program, this is the first killer whale stranding ever reported in the southeast region of the U.S. Blair Mase, coordinator of NOAA’s marine mammal stranding program, said the whale appeared to be an adult female in “decent body condition.”

“We’ve never had one actually beach itself. So this is extremely rare and our job is to find out potential cause of death and get as much information as possible from this animal,” Mase said.

Mase said the 21-foot orca weighs about 5,000 to 6,000 pounds.

“We’re starting to see unusual species, species we don’t typically see, here in the South East appearing more and more in sightings and in strandings,” Mase said.

A necropsy on the orca will be performed to determine cause of death, but it could take weeks before the results come back.

The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office posted on Twitter at 4:20 p.m. that they were able to remove the whale with the help of SeaWorld and FWC.

The whale has since been transported to SeaWorld.

This is a developing story and will be updated with more information as we receive it.

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About the Authors:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined ClickOrlando.com in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.

Molly joined News 6 at the start of 2021, returning home to Central Florida.