Mote Marine was called to Siesta Key Public Beach in Sarasota yesterday to rescue what they believed was a beached pygmy whale. An excited crowd of beachgoers had gathered, covering the patient with wet towels, bikini tops and snack-bar napkins in a valiant effort to keep it hydrated until help arrived.
When the team of Mote biologists got to the scene, they quickly ascertained that the presumed beached whale was too far gone and was promptly euthanized, unceremoniously dragged off the beach, flopped onto a waiting flatbed truck and taken to the Mote facility for the standard necropsy, much to the horror of the volunteers who had been working on the victim for nearly 45 minutes.
It was only at the necropsy that the ghastly truth was revealed. The 'whale' was, in reality, a morbidly obese Mennonite tourist from Indiana, Mrs. Velma Lou Fefferwinkel of West Cow Udder Township.
Said one unidentified Sarasota resident who had worked so feverishly to save Mrs. Fefferwinkel on the beach, "We saw this poor woman having difficulty finding her footing in the sand to get out of the water, so several of us went to help her. Soon, more people showed up and covered her in wet towels to keep her cool until we could get her back to the shade of the pavilion."
"Then, like out of nowhere, these know-it-alls from Mote show up, immediately say she's too far gone and stick this giant needle in the poor woman's butt. That was pretty much all she wrote," he continued. "We were speechless, especially when they tied a cable around her and winched her off the beach to the parking lot."
A Mote spokesperson expressed their sincere condolences to the family of Mrs. Fefferwinkel, but vehemently denied any culpability in her death. "Mote Marine received a call that there was a distressed whale on Siesta Key beach. When we arrived on the scene, Mrs. Fefferwinkel was unresponsive, completely covered in wet towels, with an excited crowd of about 50 people milling around her--a classic beached whale scenario that we've dealt with many times--and we acted according to prescribed protocol. It was just a tragic accident."
The Sarasota Mennonite community has expressed outrage at the cavalier attitude of Mote Marine. Miller M. Miller, a local Mennonite leader, said, "As a Mennonite, Mrs. Fefferwinkel did not wear traditional bathing attire when she entered the Gulf. As she attempted to exit the water, she apparently lost her balance, fell and could not get back up on her own. She quickly grew overheated trying to get up, but her wet clothes kept pulling her back down. Several people on the beach went to help her, then, all of a sudden, Mote shows up and kills the poor woman."
Mrs. Fefferwinkel's husband went to the Mote Marine Labs to identify and claim the body. "Oh, no, my Velma Lou that is, sure enough," he said quietly upon seeing his wife. "I will miss her rhubarb pie in the spring, I will."
Onlookers watch as Mote Marine biologists euthanize overweight tourist on Siesta Key, mistaking her for a beached whale.