Bolt, the male melon-headed whale that stranded on Longboat Key last week, died Sept. 7.
Bolt, originally thought to be a pygmy killer whale, was found in the surf behind 2605 Gulf of Mexico Drive on Sept. 4 and moved to Mote Marine Laboratory where he underwent fluid therapy and rehabilitation. His initial blood work showed bacterial infections, gastric issues and parasites. However, at that time, the lead suspect in his stranding was unknown.
On Sept. 7, Mote staff made the decision to humanely euthanize Bolt after a rapid decline in health overnight, Mote's statement said.
His death follows the passing of two pygmy killer whales, nicknamed Thunder and Lightning, who stranded in Clearwater and were brought to Mote on Aug. 30.
On Sept. 5, Lightning, who was the sickest of the three died. A statement from Mote said she struggled to swim on her own, showed no interest in food and was being treated for pneumonia, gastric issues and parasites known as nasotrema. Her specific cause of death is not known.
Twenty six hours after Lightning’s death, Thunder died. Mote’s statement said that he was socially bonded to Lightning, but it is unclear what impact Lightning’s death had on Thunder.
The whales typically live far offshore and showed no behavioral signs of red tide. More research into their strandings and deaths will be done.
All three animals will undergo a necropsy so Mote can hopefully gain insight into the reasons for their deaths, the laboratory’s statement said.
The statement continued by stating that causes of marine mammal strandings, particularly with species such as offshore whales, are difficult for scientists to determine.