A whale was spotted in NYC over the weekend, but sadly it wasn’t a majestic sighting for New Yorkers to be amazed by.
Instead, a dead humpback whale was discovered off shore of Staten Island. The magnificent creature clocked in at 38 feet long and washed ashore on Friday, September 17 in Great Kills Park on the east shore of the borough.
Members of the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society quickly arrived on the scene to examine the body, working with the state Department of Conservation, NYC Parks Department and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries. Though they haven’t fully determined the cause of death yet, it could very well be caused by humans, as they already found two human-related injuries: “wounds around the mouth and head consistent with entanglement in gear, and a large piece of metal debris lodged in his intestines, causing damage to the digestive tract,” reports the Staten Island Advance.
“It’s still early to say if these factors contributed to the animal’s death,” Rob DiGiovanni, founder and chief scientist of AMSEAS, told the local newspaper. “It’s just saying that this is what we observed and then the samples we [will] send out to a pathologist and further analysis will be conducted. But what we found in our preliminary findings would be that it doesn’t look like a naturally occurring event.”
The whale has now been buried at the beach, but samples will be analyzed to find out exactly what happened to the poor creature.
On Friday, locals saw it floating out in local waters, but it later washed up directly on shore. The Parks Department asked people to remain a safe distance away from the carcass.
Humpback whales have often been spotted in New York waters in recent years (just search “whale” Secret NYC to see a sampling), but experts say this occurrence is part of a larger “Unusual Mortality Event” for humpback whales that has been occurring along the Atlantic coast from Maine through Florida since 2016.
As for what you can do to help? The Atlantic Marine Conservation Society tells New Yorkers to contact the New York State Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Hotline at 631-369-9829 if you witness a dead or injured marine mammal or sea turtle.