- Associated Press - Thursday, September 3, 2015

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) - Two juvenile whales rescued from a Waveland beach Tuesday have presented more surprises for the staff at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies.

Director Moby Solangi tells The Sun Herald (https://bit.ly/1ikTfX0) the staff has determined the whales are pygmy killer whales - not melon-headed whales, as they had originally thought.

“Even less is known about pygmy killer whales than melon-headed whales,” Solangi said Thursday. “They are one of the most unique marine creatures in the world.”

And, because the whales are juveniles, he said they don’t yet have the mature traits that help distinguish them from other whales.

“Things like teeth, jaw structure and bones help to distinguish the animals,” he said. “When dealing with an animal in critical condition, you can’t check those things right away.”



Solangi said scientists from around the world sent information to IMMS that helped properly identify the mammals.

Meanwhile, he said the whales seem to be healing and getting used to their surroundings.

“They couldn’t swim by themselves at all when we first rescued them,” he said. “Now they are swimming totally independent of aid and are showing increased signs of recovery.”

The whales will stay at IMMS for about 30 days to regain their strength before the team plans a trip to return them to the wild.

“We’ll work with other agencies to find a (family) pod that will accept the whales into their hierarchy,” he said. “We’re expecting to have to travel 200 miles to find a suitable environment to bring them back (to).”

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Information from: The Sun Herald, https://www.sunherald.com

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