Dead Humpback Whale Found Floating Offshore Near Montauk

The dead whale was about 4.5 miles off Montauk Friday afternoon. Independent/Rob DiGiovanni

Update, July 17, 4:45 p.m.: Boaters should be on the lookout for a floating humpback whale carcass in the ocean waters off Montauk.

The dead whale, first discovered Friday morning, is not being removed from the water just yet. The Atlantic Marine Conservation Society (AMSEAS) said that due to current conditions in the ocean and the location of the whale, its team has decided the best course of action is to place a location tag on the carcass and track its movements.

AMSEAS will be tracking the data collected from the tag to determine the next steps.

As of Friday afternoon, the whale is 4.5 miles offshore near Montauk. It is fairly decomposed, which would make towing a lengthy and difficult process, AMSEAS said.

No necropsy examination is planned at this time.

The public is encouraged to report sightings of this whale, and any other marine animals that are in distress, stranded, or floating dead, to the New York State Stranding Hotline at 631-369-9829.

Originally, July 17, 1:45 p.m.: A dead humpback whale was found floating six miles south of Montauk Friday morning.

The U.S. Coast Guard notified the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society (AMSEAS), which which responds to strandings, after it first spotted the carcass at about 9 a.m.

AMSEAS is working with the Coast Guard, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries and the Town of East Hampton on a response plan.

This is the sixth large whale stranding in 2020, according to AMSEAS, the lead large whale response organization in New York State.

It is the fourth humpback whale to strand on Long Island, the first being in Jacob Riis Park in Rockaway Park on April 2. On the East End, a moderately decomposed 32-foot humpback whale floated ashore at Cupsogue Beach County Park in Westhampton Beach at the start of Memorial Day weekend. On May 31, a 33.8-foot long humpback whale stranded at Atlantic Avenue Beach.

There has been an unusual mortality event in effect for humpback whales along the Atlantic coast since 2016. Whales have been a common sight off the South Fork’s coast in recent years.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 126 humpback whales have died between 2016 and 2020.

Not only whales are washing up on the East End. Just last week, a dolphin that was beached near Ditch Plains in Montauk died while rescuers tried to save it.

Reports of strandings should be made to the New York State Stranding Hotline at 631-369-9829. The public is urged to keep their distance from marine mammals and sea turtles at all times.

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