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Adult sperm whale found dead just days after calf dies in Florida Keys

Necropsies are being done on both, though experts believe their deaths are not related.

KEY WEST, Fla. — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating the death of a 40-ton adult male sperm whale that became stranded in the Florida Keys.

State wildlife authorities said they were working with their partners to perform a necropsy on an emaciated 47.5-foot-long whale. 

The sperm whale died Tuesday in the Mud Keys area, just northeast of Key West. It was then towed by a boat to a marina on Stock Island, according to the Miami Herald.

Television station WPLG says it was a commercial fisherman who first spotted the whale near the shore. The whale appeared very thin, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told the news station.

The whale was the second found dead within a week in the Keys. The Herald reports a newborn female died May 4 in Key Largo. The newspaper says the calf still had its umbilical cord when it was discovered near John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. The official cause of death has not yet been released.

Blair Mase, a stranding coordinator with the National Fisheries Service, told the Herald it was unlikely that the younger and older whales' deaths were related – despite it being odd for two sperm whales to get stranded and die in the same area within a short timeframe.

Sperm whales, which are listed as endangered, are the world's largest toothed whales. They are typically found in deep ocean waters and are named after a waxy oil sac called spermaceti that is found on their heads, according to the NOAA.