For DeSoto, Florida -- Scientists are planning an incredible undertaking on Friday.
They'll perform a necropsy -- an animal autopsy -- on a whale that probably tops ten tons.
Sick, emaciated, and dying, the sperm whale swam in far from its normal domain of the deep Gulf of Mexico and beached itself along Pinellas County's shores early Thursday morning.
Hundreds came to see it as it struggled in shallow water along Madeira Beach near John's Pass. Marine scientists say it was clearly not well, long before it came ashore.
About the size of a school bus, it's far too large to take somewhere to rehabilitate. And if it were pushed out to sea, biologists say it would have just beached itself again somewhere else.
Veterinarians waded into the water Thursday afternoon, sedated the whale, and then euthanized it.
They towed the animal's remains to Fort DeSoto Park, where they'll perform a necropsy Friday morning. They hope to learn whether it was dying from natural causes or because of some interaction with humans.
Once scientists have finished the necropsy, they'll use a backhoe to bury the whale in the sand.
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Grayson Kamm, 10 News