One year ago on Monday, a sperm whale died after washing ashore in Montauk, prompting local response that included the difficult task of removing the whale from the rocky beach.
The young female whale was injured when it was discovered beached along a rocky strip east of Ditch Plains Beach, in front of the Montauk Shores Condominiums, at dawn on that warm Saturday morning.
Concerned bystanders poured buckets of water over the whale, while waiting for the East Hampton Town Marine Patrol and the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Rescue & Research to respond.
We'd later learn that the whale was about one-year-and-a-half old calf, weighed 2.5 tons, an measured 18 feet long. It had suffered from malnutrition and had been bitten by a shark.
Kimberly Durham, the rescue program director, recalled responding and monitoring the whale's respiration through its blowhole. Rescue procedures were determined be too risky, especially given the whale's rapidly diminishing health.
It died that afternoon by 2 p.m.
"It was a sad story," Durham recalled, but she added that it was nice to see the community response, from town officials to residents of the Montauk Shores. "East Hampton is pretty terrific with coming together. No one has a budget line item for dead whales. "Not that I want to relive it, but I can still appreciate what they did."
Before the sun went down that Saturday, and placing it in a large Dumpster, which was then carted away so that a necropsy could be conducted before it was buried.
Keith Grimes drove a large excavator onto the beach at the eastern most entrance to Ditch Plains and traveled east over the rocks to where the whale's body was located.
The , completed the next day, revealed the calf's death was likely caused by a combination of malnourishment and the shark bite, though the wounds showed signs of healing. Durham said, at the time, that the calf had a circular wound on the right side of its tail stock that was approximately two feet by five feet wide.