A whale washed ashore on Long Island on Thursday with bite marks “bigger than a Chihuahua,” Kim Durham of the Riverhead Foundation told Newsday.
Gothamist reports that the 58-foot fin whale was discovered about 8 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 9, near the campgrounds at Smith County Park in Shirley, New York. For reference, that’s about 77 miles from New York City.
Durham said that the creature was missing most of its skin and was in an advanced state of decomposition. The bite marks indicated that “large sea animals, possibly a shark, had fed on the carcass post-mortem,” Durham added. The fin whale’s only natural predator, apart from humans, is the orca whale.
The fin whale is an endangered species, with conservative estimates placing about 1,700 North American specimens left in the ocean. It’s also the second-largest whale in the world, after the blue whale. It can grow to be as long as 85 feet, though those found in the Northern Hemisphere, such as in the waters around New York, typically top out at 75 feet. Adult fin whales can weigh anywhere between 40 and 80 tons.
Marine biologists at the Riverhead Foundation, which supplied these photos, performed a necropsy and reported at about 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 10 that the whale was likely struck by a boat, adding that “Samples will be sent out for further analysis to confirm these preliminary findings.”
Fin whales typically have a lifespan of 80 to 90 years. The Riverhead Foundation has not announced how old this whale was when it died.
These whales can be a big pain to move, since they start to rot and smell, even ballooning up and threatening to explode. The Riverhead Foundation plans to work with county officials to dispose of the carcass.
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