Marine biologists are investigating the discovery of an estimated 25-foot-long dead humpback whale found that was floating in Napeague Bay in Amagansett over the weekend, officials said.
East Hampton town bay constables received the initial report on Sunday, the U.S. Coast Guard members stationed in Montauk confirmed its location off Cranberry Hole Road on Monday and experts with the nonprofit Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation responded Tuesday to take samples, officials said.
The whale was found in shallow water on the north side of the South Fork near the Amagansett-Montauk line. Responders tied a line to the whale’s tale and towed it to Little Albert’s Landing in East Hampton, where it’s beached, officials said. Biologists will perform a necropsy Wednesday to determine the whale’s cause of death. East Hampton Town officials are working on a plan to dispose of the carcass, the East Hampton Star reported.
It is not uncommon for dead whales to wash up on Long Island. At least a half dozen washed up on LI last year. Among them were a humpback whale found dead of ship strike on Fire Island in June, a True’s beaked whale found dead of starvation the following day in Westhampton Beach, a Minke whale covered in shark bites that washed up dead at Robert Moses State Park in July, another humpback whale found dead of apparent blunt force trauma in Lloyd Harbor in October and a Northern Bottlenose Whale that was euthanized after being found stranded in Long Beach later that month.
Live whales are also occasionally spotted off the Atlantic coast on the South Shore, including one seen off Lido Beach on Monday, according to a resident there. Rare sightings of humpbacks and belugas off the North Shore in the Long Island Sound, where they are less likely to swim, also made news last year.
So far this year, the Riverhead foundation has rescued a stranded gray seal pup in Hampton Bays, a beached dolphin in East Hampton and a harbor seal that was found tangled in rope and gill netting in marshland south of Merrick. Also so far this year, the group released a sea turtle and two seals that it had previously rescued and treated at its Riverhead headquarters.
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.
The Riverhead foundation urges anyone that finds marine wildlife on the beach to call their stranding hotline: 631-369-9829.