NAVARRE BEACH — A deep water species of whale stranded and died on Navarre Beach on Monday.
The beaked whale, which measured nearly 13 feet, beached itself earlier in the afternoon, but bystanders, who thought they were helping, pushed the animal back into the water.
It stranded again and died, according to Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge Marine Mammal Stranding coordinator Brittany Baldrica.
"When people push live animals back in the water they get a burst of energy," she said. "They try to swim. The burst of energy deteriorates their muscles, which leads to a quicker and more painful death."
The whale, which is too large be chilled at the refuge center, was being driven to a marine center in Dauphin Island where Baldrica and her team planned to perform the necropsy Tuesday.
The Navarre Beach Fire Department responded to the stranding and took the whale back to the fire station so it could be transported. Chief Danny Fureigh said it took about 15 people to lift the whale into the back of a pickup truck on the beach.
"It was pretty impressive," he said.
Baldrica said the necropsy will help determine the exact species of beaked whales.
"They're an offshore, very deep water species," she said. "It's very rare to see it that close to shore, which is a large indicator that the animal was ill."