UPDATE: Dead Whale Washes Up on Napeague

Finback whale, about 50 to 60 feet long, washed up on Sunday morning.

Update, 3:20 p.m.: The finback whale that washed up on a Napeague beach on Sunday morning will remain there until Monday morning, when the marine biologists plan to perform a necropsy.

Kim Durham, of the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, who arrived to assess the whale carcass at about 2 p.m., said the whale was an adult female, about 57-feet long.

Meanwhile, shortly after the foundation arrived on Napeague, another call, for what turned out to be a baby whale, came in further west down the beach. Click here for that story.

She does not know yet what caused its death, as there are no external signs of blunt force trauma, though the whale's body came to rest on the shore on its left side. Ship strikes are the most commonly cause the deaths of whales that wash up in the area. "Right now, she's kind of suspicious," Durham said. Biologists took tissue samples Sunday afternoon.

Finbacks are documented in the waters off Long Island this time of year, tough how close to the shore depends on the location of its food source. A finback whale washed up on a Breezy Point beach late last month. That whale, which was underweight, turned out to have kidney disease and parasites, Durham said.

The finback that came ashore Sunday is of normal weight — between 40 and 50 tons, she said.

Durham thinks it has been dead no more than two weeks. The cold waters, she said, help refrigerate it from decomposing too much. Usually, she said the foundation is alerted by the Coast Guard or ships that a dead whale is floating around, but this time they received no calls before it washed up.

It has some scars on its fluke, or tail, evidence that it became entangled on a net sometimes in its life, Durham said. It also shows signs of scavengers — fish and birds.

Heavy equipment will have to move the whale closer to the dunes so that Durham and her team can perform the necropsy. They will examine its internal organs, dissecting the whale into about four pieces — which will also make it easier to remove from the beach.

Throngs of people went to take in the sight of the dead whale, many bringing their children. Some took pictures in front of it, others touched it skin, and even inside of its mouth.

"We haven't ruled out disease as a cause of death," Durham said, adding there is also decomposition bacteria.

Also, she noted that finback whales are endangered species and it is illegal to harvest any part of it.

Previously: A dead whale washed up on the ocean beach on Napeague, just east of the Windward Shores condominiums, on Sunday morning.

"It's a big one — maybe 50 to 60 feet long," said Ed Michels, the chief harbormaster, who responded after the whale was reported at about 8:30 or 9 a.m., he said.

It appears to have been dead for some time.

The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation responded to assess the whale.

While Michels said he believed it was a humpback whale, approximately 30 tons in weight, the Riverhead Foundation said it was an adult, female finback whale.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson said Marine Patrol officers are stationed on the beach until the foundation arrives. "We will handle it procedurally and operationally, as we hae done for unfortunate whale deaths in the past," he said.

Highway and sanitation department officials went to the beach to assess the situation on Sunday morning. "We will need outside equipment to properly dispose of the whale, as soon as the remains are released," by the marine mammal experts, Wilkinson said.

Have pictures of the whale? Upload them here.

The South Fork has seen several whales wash up on the coast in recent years.

In August 2012, a 57-foot dead fin whale washed up just east of Tiana Beach in Hampton Bays, after it was seen floating out in the Atlantic Ocean earlier in the day. The whale, which was also badly decomposed, had injuries consistent with being struck by a ship.

An adult pygmy sperm whale was discovered dead on the shore in West Hampton Dunes in May of 2012. The 9-foot whale was underweight at about 800 pounds.

Back in July 2011, an injured sperm whale washed up on the rocky shore in Montauk. It died several hours later. At one-year-and-a-half old calf, it weighed 2.5 tons and measured 18 feet long, making the task of removing it extremely difficult. An excavator hoisted the whale off the rocky shore and placing it in a large Dumpster, which was then carted away so that a necropsy could be conducted before it was buried.

Many remember all too well the young humpback whale that became stranded on an East Hampton Village beach in March 2010. Despite attempts to save the animal, it was eventually euthanized.

Jerry Ruschmeyer January 13, 2013 at 04:37 PM
Towing it back out to sea work make the most sense ! It would feed other fish ! It's the dust to dust theory !
SuzyScuba January 13, 2013 at 04:48 PM
Very sad news. What is the cause of death? That is important as so many are dying in recent months.
Taylor K. Vecsey (Editor) January 13, 2013 at 04:50 PM
Riverhead Foundation has not examined the whale yet. Only then, will we know the cause of death.
mark January 13, 2013 at 06:11 PM
this could be from the exposure to Corexit used in the Gulf Of Mexico. Much of the sea life dying and corals,and many dolphins and other sea creatures have the same kind of looking flesh diseases.The Whale needs to be checked to see if the poison is spreading from the Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean. see enenews.com on gulf problems,sinkholes and radiation and other stories Mark Mark
Jerry Ruschmeyer January 13, 2013 at 06:26 PM
Ya no after thinking about it ! It's a shame because the environmentalists and animal rights people will turn this into a poster child !
Jerry Ruschmeyer January 13, 2013 at 06:44 PM
It's like the TV Show Whale Wars ! These people are the Teriost of the Sea ! Pushing there views down our throats ! U better wake up world !
richard fitzgerald January 13, 2013 at 07:00 PM
It's a message.Jonahs revenge.
Jzholden January 14, 2013 at 01:44 AM
Are they doing any Sonic Testing?
Jzholden January 14, 2013 at 01:45 AM
Sonic testing an option?
BFG January 14, 2013 at 04:05 AM
When are the Indians going to do a ceremony?
Evelyn O'Doherty January 14, 2013 at 01:00 PM
I spoke to a friend last night who said that they are gathering between 8AM and 10AM this morning (Mon.). After that the town is making arrangements to haul the whale out of there.
Gail Simons January 14, 2013 at 11:44 PM
I certaintly hope that this comment is made with respect. I was extremely greatful to the Shinnecock Nation for coming to the baby humpback on Main Beach when they did....
Gail Simons January 14, 2013 at 11:46 PM
I would not be surprised in either case if it were corexit exposure or sonic injuries. And, Jerry, people like YOU are the real terrorists to life on this planet.
Shawn Swartz Quinn January 15, 2013 at 05:38 AM
Thank you for the story. I live in Pa but grew up.on LI and hope to someday return. . Sad to see but comforting to know there are people and specialists with expertise who are caring for our precious sea life. Its also.nice to.know the Native Americans will be doing a ceremony.
Taylor K. Vecsey (Editor) January 15, 2013 at 09:51 PM
Here is an update on this story: http://patch.com/A-1gWF


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