June 11, 2010

Humpback Washes Ashore On New York Beach

Park officials said Thursday that a 30-foot-long dead humpback whale washed ashore near Jones Beach State Park.

According to George Gorman, spokesman for the Long Island region of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Recreation, the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, a nonprofit marine life rescue organization, will make the determination of what to do with the whale's remains.

The whale was discovered by parks' staff east of field 6 at Jones Beach and west of Tobay Beach near a strip of beach known as High Hill.  New York State Parks Police said they received the call at 9 a.m.

"I've been here 11 years and this is the first baleen beached whale that I've seen, so it's pretty rare," Annie McIntyre, director of nature center at Jones Beach told LongIslandPress.com. The whale is already showing signs of decomposition, which leads her to believe that the whale was already dead when it washed ashore, she said.

The Riverhead Foundation will decide if they want to conduct a necropsy to determine what caused the giant's mammals death.  Parks' staff found no apparent signs of injury.

Parks' staffers will be responsible for burying the whale in the sand once the necropsy is completed.

Humpback whales can grow up to 60-feet-long and weigh over 40 tons.  Humpbacks are listed as an endangered species, but have been making a comeback in recent years.

This is not the first time a dead sea creature washed ashore at Jones Beach.

Three weeks ago a 3-foot starfish was found dead on another part of the beach.  Also, last July a dead 20-foot basking shark was found a few miles east of Jones Beach.

Scientists said the 30-foot humpback was likely headed from breeding grounds in the Caribbean to feeding grounds off the coast of New England, a normal migratory route.

Charles Bowman, president on the Riverhead Foundation, told the Long Island Press that beached whales are found in the area every year or two.  He said most die at sea and a few beach themselves to keep from drowning when they are too sick to say afloat.


On the Net: