On Tuesday, June 12, 2018, Atlantic Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) received a report of a whale swimming in Reynolds Channel in Far Rockaway. This event recalled memories of a humpback whale that had spent nearly a week swimming in that same area in November 2017, which was believed to have made its way out of the channel on its own. AMCS stayed in contact with their colleagues at the US Coast Guard and the next day, the whale was not seen in the channel. On Thursday, June 14 however, AMCS received a report of a deceased humpback whale on a sandbar near Atlantic Beach Bridge.
Because of the whale’s location, many resources needed to come together in order to respond. Working with the Town of Hempstead, Bay Constable, and US Coast Guard, teams were able to secure the whale and tow it to Alder Island. Once the whale was moved, the team was able to conduct the necropsy examination, which took place on Friday, June 15.
The whale was male, 30 feet in length, and could have been between 3 to 5 years of age. The examination showed the whale had not been actively eating and may have been compromised. It was also fairly decomposed. Samples were taken and sent to a pathologist to help determine a cause of death. Those results may take several months to come back. AMCS had additional support from Mystic Aquarium and Mount Sinai Icahn School volunteers, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries and NYS Department of Conservation. This was the fifth humpback whale to wash up on New York shores this year, and the fourth whale in less than 30 days.
As a nonprofit organization, we truly appreciate all of the organizations involved that were instrumental in these efforts. We ask that the public help by reporting strandings to the NYS Stranding Hotline by calling 631.369.9829.