"The bloated corpse floated belly up in the bay, adrift, bobbing with the tide. It was obvious she had been dead for some time. The sun reflected off her smooth, naked body, contrasting with the cerulean blue of the water. The curious watched from the shore, while the authorities went about their duties in workmanlike fashion. At one time, she may have been a big fish in a big pond, now she was just dead."
Workers towed a dead 41-ft. Bryde's whale from Tampa Bay to a deserted section of beach at Fort DeSoto Park where marine biologists performed a necropsy to determine the cause of death.
Curiously, the biologists found a one-legged man attached to the carcass of the whale, entangled in the lines of numerous harpoons that were lodged in the flesh of the whale.
First thought to be dead as well, the biologists were shocked to discover the faint flicker of life yet in the bearded man. As they tried to stablize the man until paramedics arrived, he spoke in a hoarse whisper, "To the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee." With that, the man expired.
Researchers discounted the harpoons as the cause of death, although dragging around a disgruntled sea captain for several years did put an obvious strain on the whale's cardiovascular system, not to mention putting a damper on the whale's attractiveness to potential mates.
A rumor that the whale had died from the flu was making the rounds on the Suncoast today. County health departments were flooded with calls from frantic citizens, concerned that the whale was "patient zero" in a new "whale flu" pandemic. The rumors were discounted late today and all schools will re-open tomorrow as scheduled.
Sarasota County detectives were also checking with the NOAA biologists to see if the death of the whale could be related to the recent rash of assaults on area women by area ne'er-do-well drifter, Delmer Smith III, who was arrested for four home invasions and suspected of eight others. The Sarasota County Sheriff's Dept. asks that anyone who can place this man with the victim to contact them immediately.
Late this afternoon, NOAA researchers completed their necropsy on the whale and announced the official cause of death as a hit-and-run by ship. Florida Fish and Wildlife is checking the Port of Tampa and the Port of Manatee for any ships with damage to their starboard bow.
As this is such a high-profile case, local authorities have called in a team of investigators from the Miami-Dade Crime Lab. Arriving on the scene around 10:30 this evening was lead detective Lt. Horatio Caine. "It's a clear cut case of ship strike", he said, while dramatically removing his sunglasses. "This will definitely be my biggest case.........."