Monday, February 12, 2018 was the first reported stranding of a large whale in New York State for the New Year. Atlantic Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) received a call that afternoon from the US Park Police about a deceased humpback whale that washed ashore in Breezy Point. It was going to be a busy week for AMCS as the education programs have grown in recent months. There was a marine debris lecture scheduled at Sayville Library, a teaching necropsy scheduled at BOCES in East Meadow, and a public hearing to oppose offshore drilling on Long Island in which several environmental groups and members of the public gathered to raise their concerns. For AMCS, and Long Island as a whole, one of these concerns that needed to be addressed was the significant threat offshore drilling poses to the marine environment, and its inhabitants. As 2017 saw an unprecedented number of 14 large whale strandings in New York State, it is crucial we do not introduce any harmful factors into the environment that could lead to an increase of strandings in the future. However, learning why these whales wash upon our shores is essential for AMCS and the stranding community. With that in mind, AMCS worked with networks partners and local municipalities to formulate a response plan for this whale.
On Tuesday, February 13, AMCS biologists arrived onsite to take initial measurements of the whale. Just under 32-feet, the juvenile whale weighed approximately 20-22 tons. AMCS worked with National Park Service to schedule and secure the heavy equipment needed to conduct a necropsy, and scheduled the exam for Thursday, February 15. The Breezy Point Cooperative generously lent a hand in offering equipment they had available, and were instrumental in this process.
When necropsy was conducted on Thursday, AMCS biologists found evidence of blunt force trauma consistent with vessel strike, and samples were taken and sent to a pathologist to help determine other factors that may have led to the animal’s death. The remains were buried on the beach. Biologists had support from NYC Department of Sanitation, National Park Service, Breezy Point Cooperative, US Coast Guard, Marine Mammals of Maine, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, and NOAA Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office.
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.
Find the initial news coverage from amNY