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Jul 26, 2018 5:55 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

UPDATE: Blunt Force Trauma May Have Killed Whale

A dead humpback whale washed up at Napeague on Thursday.              ELIZABETH VESPE
Jul 27, 2018 9:57 PM

UPDATE: Friday, 5:40 p.m.

Blunt force trauma, most likely from a boat, may have killed the humpback whose body was found in the surf, according to Robert DiGiovanni, chief scientist at the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society.

Society biologists arrived at the Napeague beach on Friday at about 9:30 a.m. to conduct a necropsy on the whale.

Severely decomposed, the female whale was measured to be 30.5 feet long, suggesting that it was a juvenile between 3 and 5 years old. Mr. DiGiovanni said late Friday afternoon the lifespan of a humpback whale is normally 40 to 50 years.

Due to the limited space on the beach and steep erosion, it was decided that the best option for examination—tissue samples were taken—and disposal of the whale would be to transport it to the East Hampton Town Recycling Center.

Mr. DiGiovanni said the whale was likely to have died two weeks ago.

“Normally the whale dies out in the ocean, sinks, decomposes and then washes up on shore,” he said.

Because of the advanced state of decomposition, the exact cause of death could not be determined immediately. Samples will be sent to a pathologist and those results may take several months to come back.

Dr. DiGiovanni said whales, and other oceanic wildlife, are becoming more common on the East End, but that scientists have yet to find concrete evidence as to why.

According to a press release from AMCS, the society received support on Friday from East Hampton Town Highway Supervisor Steven Lynch, Town Marine Patrol, the Town Department of Natural Resources and Bistrian Materials and Excavation.

The whale was found at the ocean beach near Beach Plum Court in Amagansett.

Original Story:

A deceased humpback whale at the ocean beach at Napeague was reported to the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society by the U.S. Coast Guard Montauk Station at about 8:30 a.m. on Thursday.

A team assessed the situation at around 1:30 p.m. to gather further information about the whale’s death.

“What an incredible tragedy,” said Abigail Cane of East Hampton, who was walking on the beach at about 1:45 Thursday afternoon. “I collected a bunch of plastic on the beach the other day, maybe eating plastic killed it.”

The team from the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society will perform a necropsy to collect data and determine the actual cause of death.

The whale is estimated to be 30 to 35 feet in length, although exact measurements could not be taken because the whale was still in the surf. This was the sixth humpback whale, including one that was found in Sandy Hook, New Jersey, this past May, that the society responded to this year. There has been an ongoing “unusual mortality event” along the Atlantic Coast that has impacted more than 75 humpback whales since 2016, according to the society.

The organization, which is based in Hampton Bays, strongly urges people to keep a minimum distance of 150 feet at all times from deceased wildlife washed up on shore.

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