Whales are not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Long Island beaches. But recently, there has been a spate of stranded whales along its shores. Patch reported that a deceased humpback whale first washed ashore in Southampton and was then carried out by the storm tides before it was found on the beach in Napeaugue State Park, Rob DiGiovanni Jr., chief scientist at the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, said.
The whale was then carried out by the tides again and made final landfall in Amagansett, where the AMSEAS team conducted an examination on the 31-foot female.
“Our biologists collected samples to be sent to a veterinary pathologist for further analysis to confirm necropsy findings,” he said.
AMSEAS thanked all involved with helping, including the Village of Southampton, New York State Parks, East Hampton Town’s marine patrol, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and NOAA Fisheries New England/Mid-Atlantic.
The humpback whale’s stranding was followed by a Risso’s dolphin found in Montauk and a short-beaked common dolphin found in Westhampton Beach, AMSEAS said.
A whale was found in a North Fork creek in November. Most recently, a sperm whale was found “struggling” in the surf on Rockaway Beach this week, DiGiovanni said.
“We’ve had five large whales in the last 60 days that have washed up” in nearby areas, he said. “We are trying to look at commonalities.”
The public is encouraged to report even regular sightings because if it can be determined that the increase in strandings is reflective of a general uptick in the whale population nearby, that would be helpful, DiGiovanni said.
Although there was decomposition, due to the animal being tossed in the surf, and while the official cause of the death for the whale that ended up in Amagansett has not yet been determined, there were no signs of a vessel strike or previous entanglement, as well as no obvious signs of trauma, Kimberly Durham of AMSEAS said.
“When we conduct these examinations, we look at two basic categories — natural or human-induced deaths. One thing we have not found is that they are human-induced. We are looking now to natural or biological issues,” DiGiovanni said.
AMSEAS thanked the public for reporting the strandings using the New York State Stranding Hotline and asked people to call 631-369-9829 to report any sick, injured, or deceased marine mammal or sea turtles.