A large crowd watched as a pilot whale swam in Clark's Cove on Saturday. Most thought the whale had become lost and were cheering for it to find its way back out into the open ocean. It appears, however, that the whale was sick and may have been looking for a final resting place.

Whales will often beach themselves when they are ill or near death. The International Fund for Animal Welfare said the pilot whale appeared to be an older female. There was an unconfirmed report from a worker at the scene that the whale may have had a broken fin.

The animal was euthanized when it was determined to be in poor health, according to IFAW Marine Mammal Rescue and Research Communications Manager Stacey Hedman, who spoke with Providence television station WJAR-10. A necropsy was expected on Sunday to try and determine what ailed the pilot whale.

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Many people gathered on the harbor walk to watch the pilot whale and the efforts to save it. Some were confused and angry to learn that the whale had been euthanized, but according to the IFAW, it was a humane way to assist the whale since it likely would not have survived much longer.

Watching the whale swim in the cove was exciting. We don't often receive visits from such great creatures in our local waters. Watching this whale, likely searching out a final resting spot on what became an elusive shoreline, was also an experience that we seldom see.

The visit to New Bedford by a pilot whale was a bittersweet one. It gave so many a chance to see this graceful creature up close as it sought a final resting place among us.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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