PALM COAST, Fla. - A 21-foot orca whale has died after officials said it stranded itself on a Flagler County Beach on Wednesday morning.
The Flagler County sheriff's office posted video to Facebook of the female killer whale that was found beached on the shore south of Jungle Hut Park in Palm Coast.
"This is extremely rare," said Blair Mase with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). "We've never had a record of a stranded killer whale in Florida or the Southeast United States."
Photos and videos posted to the Flagler County Sheriff's Office Facebook page and the Flagler County Government Facebook page showed officials using construction machinery to move the whale out of the water and away from the beach where a necropsy, an animal autopsy, could be performed.
Flagler Co. Sheriff's Office
Several agencies assisted, including Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and Flagler County government departments.
The roadway near the beach was closed, but has since reopened.
Viewers on Facebook said the video is heartbreaking.
"Poor baby. I hope we find out why it was here and what was wrong with it," one Facebook viewer said.
"This is so upsetting," another person wrote.
According to SeaWorld, while killer whales can be found around the world, they are much more common in highly productive areas of cold-water upwelling including the Pacific Northwest, along northern Norway's coast in the Atlantic, and the higher latitudes of the Southern Ocean. In addition to being found in colder water, killer whales also have been seen in warm water areas such as Florida.