The dead humpback whale, who washed up on Lido Beach in the town of Hempstead in New York on Sunday, was probably killed after being hit by a ship, Atlantic Marine Conservation Society (AMSEAS), who performed the autopsy, said on Tuesday. He was identified as Luna, who was over 40 years old.
AMSEAS collected samples from several parts of the whale, including fat, tissues, and organs. “The level of decomposition suggests the whale had been dead for several days before washing ashore,” AMSEAS said in a social media post. “Preliminary findings indicate that a vessel strike is the likely cause of death.”
The dead humpback whale was in good body condition and had been actively eating. The Center for Coastal Studies recognized the whale, Luna, “who we have known for over four decades in the Gulf of Maine”.
He was last seen in September 2022, the center said. It added that it isn’t always possible to identify a whale, but “in this case, we were able to recognize Luna immediately from his unique fluke pigmentation.”
After the autopsy, Luna was buried on the beach.
“We haven’t had a whale wash up on the shores here probably in about five years. He (Luna) is by far the largest we’ve seen on these shorelines in over a decade,” Don Clavin, supervisor for the town of Hempstead, said.
“Sad to see this beautiful mammal and imagine the pain he went through until he washed ashore,” local Nick Perrota media SWNS.
In the past two months, eighteen humpback and other whales have stranded on beaches on the East Coast -including New York and New Jersey- of the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Humpback whales are large marine mammals who belong to the baleen whale species. They are known for their distinctive hump-shaped backs, long flippers, and acrobatic behaviours such as jumping and slapping the water’s surface.
They are found in oceans worldwide and feed on krill, small fish, and other small sea creatures. Humpback whales are also known for their complex vocalizations, which they use to communicate with each other, mate and navigate.
The animals are a migratory species and travel long distances every year between their feeding and breeding grounds.