Whale Cause of Death Inconclusive

Beached Whale in Quogue
Beached whale in Quogue. Photo: Jennifer Hardy-Hargett

It remains unclear what killed the large humpback whale that beached in Quogue last week. After conducting a necropsy on the animal Thursday, the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation deemed the cause of death “inconclusive,” though ship strike appears a distinct possibility.

The 48-foot whale beached off Dune Road near Triton Lane in Quogue on Wednesday and a team lead by the Riverhead Foundation conducted their investigation the next morning. Following the necropsy, the remains were buried on site.

The whale was identified as an adult female humpback whale. She measured 48 feet in length and is estimated to have weighed 30 tons. She was identified as a whale of at least 40 years old named Istar. The Riverhead Foundation said she was matched within the Humpback Whale Catalog maintained by the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies. The cause of death is currently inconclusive although significant fractures were found on her cranium. Further analysis of the fracture patterns and bone samples are necessary to confirm ship strike, which killed the massive finback whale that beached in Napeague in January.

A juvenile pygmy sperm whale was still alive when it beached in Amagansett the same day in January, but it was in “severe distress” and was euthanized due to an overwhelming amount of blood and parasitic worms in its stomach.

“This whale marks the third [large baleen whale] since December 26, 2012,” a representative for the Riverhead Foundation explained, adding, “It has been a very busy year…” The Riverhead Foundation said seal sightings are elevated with multiple sightings of gray seal pups reported each day along the beaches of East Hampton and Southampton.

On Sunday, the Riverhead Foundation planned to release “Noodle,” a male harbor porpoise, after six months of rehabilitation, but it was canceled due to inclement weather. They are rescheduling the release. Keep an eye on The Scoop for the complete story.


More from Our Sister Sites