On Friday, December 21, 2018, Atlantic Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) received a report of a live minke whale that had stranded on a Center Island beach in Oyster Bay in the morning. The gentlemen that discovered the whale sent photos and video to firstname.lastname@example.org to share with the team, also letting them know the whale had freed itself and was last seen swimming away. In the afternoon, another report confirmed the whale had stranded again, this time deceased.
Inclement weather and timing prevented the team from conducting the necropsy that day, however AMCS worked with local authorities to determine a response plan. AMCS had support from NOAA Fisheries, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, US Coast Guard, the Town of Oyster Bay and its various departments, Mystic Aquarium, Marine Mammals of Maine, and International Fund for Animal Welfare. The necropsy took place the following day, Saturday, December 22 at the nearby landfill.
The male minke whale was 17 feet in length and approximately 2,860 pounds, which is very underweight for this species. Initial findings showed signs of disease and it is likely the animal had been sick for quite some time. Samples were sent to a pathologist to help determine the cause of death. Pathology results may take several months to come back.
Minke whales are currently one of three whale species experiencing an unusual mortality event, which means that an unusually high number of minke whales have died along the Atlantic coast in the last year. Gathering data from each mortality will help researchers understand what is causing the increases in mortalities. This is our fourth response to this species this year.
More information can be found on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries website here: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-life-distress/2017-2018-minke-whale-unusual-mortality-event-along-atlantic-coast
AMCS responded to a total of 13 large whales in New York State in 2018. AMCS is the primary large whale response organization in New York State. 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.