'Physty' the whale feels better, but not feisty

It was a belly-scraping experience for the 25-foot sperm whale that tried to beach itself on Coney Island last week, but things are looking better now. The whale, dubbed "Physty," is convalescing in a boat slip at Robert Moses State Park on Fire Island.

Named after his species -- Physeter catodon -- Physty was towed from Coney Island to the state park and is now getting plenty of rest and food.

A spokesman for the park said that Physty's condition was "stable," and that the whale seemed to be improving. Government officials are convinced that the whale will eventually be able to lead a normal life in its native waters 100 miles offshore.

Richard Whittaker of the National Marine Fisheries Service told the Monitor that "I've never seen one survive. The reason they come ashore is that there's something wrong."

Mr. Whittaker also expressed concern that "too many people were coming close to it and will agitate the animal and make it worse."

An estimated 5,000 people have visited the giant mammal, watching him cavort in the mildly choppy water.

If he survives, Physty will be herded out into deep water by small boats, possibly including a US Coast Guard escort.

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