Dead Humpback Whale Floats Ashore

Courtesy of the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society
A dead humpback whale floated ashore at Cupsogue Beach in Westhampton May 23.

A dead humpback whale floated ashore at Cupsogue Beach County Park in Westhampton Beach at the start of Memorial Day weekend.

The Atlantic Marine Conservation Society (AMSEAS) was alerted on the morning of May 22 about the dead whale floating approximately one mile offshore near Moriches Inlet. Both the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound and a private vessel called the New York Stranding Hotline.

AMSEAS worked with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Friday to tow the carcass near the shore in expectation it would wash up. The equipment to bring it all the way to the beach was not available at that time, and they brought it about 700 feet from the shoreline so it would wash up the next day.

By Saturday morning, the whale did make it to shore and a necropsy was performed. Rachel Bosworth, a spokeswoman for the AMSEAS, said the team members practiced social distancing during the exam.

The whale, a 32-foot male, was moderately decomposed, according to the AMSEAS.

“It was a robust animal with a full stomach, showing it had been eating,” Bosworth said in a statement. “There was some evidence of previous entanglement, orca predation, and healed wounds on the fluke.”

The cause of death is inconclusive. Samples were taken and sent to a pathologist. Results may take several months to come back.

The whales’ remains were buried on the beach.

Shorebird monitors, such as the state’s endangered piping plovers, were not disturbed during the necropsy, the AMSEAS said.

Sightings can be called into the New York State Stranding Hotline at 631-369-9829.

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