A dead female minke whale was found on Rockaway Beach in New York City on Friday morning. Harry Wallace, elected Chief of the Unkechaug Nation, performed a Native American whale memorial ceremony.
“We have a special covenant relationship with these relatives,” Wallace said. “When we come here, we try to provide a sacred burial in a way that honors their life and honors the relationship that we have as original people with our relatives here.”
The Atlantic Marine Conservation Society (AMSEAS) examined the 25-foot adult female minke whale. She had several broken bones and cut wounds across her body that appeared to have occurred before her death.
“There was additional evidence of blunt force trauma. Samples will be sent out for further analysis, but preliminary evidence indicates the whale died from a vessel strike,” AMSEAS said.
The animal is the 12th dead whale to have washed up on the shorelines of New York and New Jersey since December 1st, according to the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Minke whales are found in all the world’s oceans, both in the open sea and near the coast, and are typically solitary animals but are also known to travel in small groups. They are part of the family Balaenopteridae, which also includes humpback whales, fin whales, and blue whales.
Minke whales are known for their speed and agility, and they can swim up to 24 miles per hour (38 km/h). Their diet consists primarily of small fish, krill, and other crustaceans. They have a lifespan of about 30 to 50 years.