A dead whale measuring nearly 30 feet long was discovered washed up on a popular Long Island beach early Thursday, and authorities said it would take some time to figure out the mammal's cause of death.
New York State Parks Police officers found the male humpback whale at the east end of Jones Beach, in Wantagh. Experts said it was 2 to 5 years old and had probably been dead about a week.
Biologists from the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation were at the beach Thursday afternoon but did not have equipment available to perform a necropsy to determine what caused the animal's death. Instead, the whale was picked up and moved from the shoreline onto the sand. Tests were scheduled for Friday.
“There's no blood; there are no slashes from a propeller or something that we can see,” said parks spokesman George Gorman.
Humpback whales can grow up to 60 feet long and weigh more than 40 tons. Although still listed as endangered, humpbacks have been making a comeback.
It's not the first time unusual wildlife has been found in the area.
A 3-foot sunfish was found dead in another part of Jones Beach three weeks ago. Last July, a dead 20-foot-long basking shark washed ashore a few miles east of Jones Beach.
In April, a dying 30-foot humpback became beached about 80 miles away in East Hampton. It took several rounds of sedatives and three gunshots to euthanize it.
Onlookers gathered for days to mark its passing, taking pictures of the dying mammal. Members of the Shinnecock Nation's Thunderbird family and other tribes sang and prayed for the whale's spirit.
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 of the Riverhead Foundation, said at the time that beached whales are found in the area every year or two. Most die at sea; a few beach themselves to keep from drowning when they're too sick to stay afloat, Mr. Bowman said.
Beached dolphins are more common and have a better chance of surviving, he said.
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