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Humpback whale carcass washes up on Mass. beach

Gloucester (Mass.) Daily Times

September 21. 2018 9:52PM

The juvenile humpback whale carcass that washed up Friday morning on Revere Beach in Massachusetts likely is the same one first sighted off Gloucester, Mass., two weeks ago before it floated south to a rocky Cohasset beach.

“We believe it is the same whale,” said Jennifer Goebel, a NOAA Fisheries spokeswoman.

The 25-foot long carcass of the whale, which researchers at NOAA Fisheries and the New England Aquarium believe was born in 2016 to a female humpback known as Venom, made land for the second time about 7:30 a.m. Friday, according to Massachusetts State Police.

Troopers secured the site from onlookers and whale biologists from the aquarium were dispatched.

The juvenile humpback carcass in Revere was the first of two beachings on Friday. The second humpback carcass later washed up on the rocks of Little Brewster Island at the mouth of Boston Harbor.

According to the New England Aquarium, more than 80 humpbacks have died along the East Coast, from the Carolinas to Maine, since January 2016.

The whale carcass that washed up on Revere Beach was first observed Sept. 7 about two miles off Gloucester. It then took three days to float roughly 23 nautical miles to Cohasset, where it washed up on a rocky beach next to the town’s Atlantic Avenue. There it stayed until Sept. 14, when Cohasset officials had it towed out to sea.

On Friday, the whale carcass, which during the past week floated about 14 nautical miles north from Cohasset, became Revere’s problem.

“We’re working with local authorities on a plan to dispose of the carcass,” Goebel said. “We expect it will be composted or buried.”

Tony LaCasse, spokesman for the New England Aquarium, said whale biologists were able to harvest some data from the carcass while it was on the Cohasset shore, but were unable to perform a full necropsy because of turbulent water and tidal conditions.

The whale carcass was first spotted by fishermen, whale biologists and a Gloucester-based whale watch vessel on the afternoon of Sept. 7.

Cynde McInnis, a Cape Ann Whale Watch naturalist aboard the Hurricane II, said the boat was returning from a whale watch trip when it was contacted by a fisherman about the carcass. It steamed to the area, joining a research vessel from the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

McInnis said the carcass was floating on its back, with no readily apparent indication of what might have caused its death.

A dead minke whale washed ashore on Jenness State Park beach in Rye on Monday.

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