A juvenile male humpback whale that washed up dead on eastern Fire Island this week died of blunt force trauma consistent with being hit by a ship, according to marine biologists.
The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation said that a necropsy performed Wednesday on the whale found internal indications of blunt force trauma and skull fractures consistent with a ship strike, a spokeswoman for the group said.
“Due to the whale’s good body condition, it appears it may have died just a few days ago,” the spokeswoman, Rachel Bosworth, said. The 28-foot whale’s carcass was buried on the beach, as is routine.
The whale had washed up east of Davis Park on Monday night. A day later, a True’s beaked whale was also found to have washed up on Pike’s Beach in Westhampton.
A necropsy is scheduled for Thursday on the second whale.
The incidents came eight weeks after a humpback whale carcass washed up near the Wilderness Visitors Center west of Smith Point County Park on FI.
Humpback whales are a threatened species that can grow up to 60-feet long, 25-to-40 tons and have a lifespan of 50 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). They are primarily threatened by being entangled in fishing gear, ship strikes, whale watching harassment, habitat changes and hunting, NOAA said.