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Second dead minke whale in a month washes ashore in Rye

By KEVIN LANDRIGAN
New Hampshire Union Leader

August 19. 2017 5:14PM
Officials said they believe the small whale was dead before it came ashore on Foss Beach in Rye. It was discovered Saturday. (Seacoast Science Center Rescue)

RYE — A second dead minke whale in less than a month has washed ashore off New Hampshire’s seacoast, Fish and Game officials confirmed Saturday.

Officials said they believe the small whale was dead before it came ashore on Foss Beach in Rye.

The whale was spotted Saturday morning and removed from the beach during the early afternoon.

A necropsy will be done to determine the cause of death but officials stress they don’t believe the death is suspicious.

Officials with the Seacoast Science Center’s Marine Mammal Rescue say the frequency of these dead whales is concerning.

“We don’t have many of these and to have two in such a short span like this makes us want to really examine the necropsies to find if there is something going on,” said Sarah Toupin, a rescue assistant with the team.

“We know there is always a lot of public interest when these unfortunate events take place.”

The New England Aquarium staff will assist the Seacoast Science Center with the whale examination on Sunday, Toupin said.

After that point, Fish and Game officials will likely tow the whale to a non-public spot in the ocean where it will be humanely left.

The minke whale is the second smallest whale in the baleen suborder with the smallest known species being the pygmy right whale.

On average the minke whale will grow to an average length of 22 to 24 feet long and weigh as much as 11 tons, though the one found Saturday was clearly not fully grown.

The female will often grow slightly larger than her male counterpart, about one to two feet longer.

The minke whale carries a black or dark grey skin tone on its upper body and is white on its bottom half with a large white patch on its flippers.

The whale found Saturday is smaller than the 12-to-15-foot minke whale that came ashore on Great Bay in Newington on July 25.

Last month’s whale was found near a home on Fox Point Road in that town.

Officials believe last month’s dead whale was the same one that had been seen a few days earlier struggling in Great Bay to stay in deep enough water near the mouth of the Piscataqua River.

“We did a necropsy on that first minke whale that was found and are still awaiting receipt of all the results,” Toupin said.

Live whales in the mouth of the river aren’t that uncommon because menhaden fish, a big attraction for hungry whales, are plentiful there.

On June 27, 2016, Marine investigators struggled to cope with a 45-foot-long humpback whale that had washed onto the rocks outside of Rye Harbor State Park and Foss Beach.

They quickly identified the whale as an 18-year-old female named Snow Plow.

“This was our first whale to come ashore dead in some years and here we have quickly two more; it bears further investigation and we’ll be doing that,” Toupin said.

klandrigan@unionleader.com


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