A northern bottlenose whale, the first to be reported stranded in New York, was found Tuesday off Long Beach and had to be euthanized, according to the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation.
"Unfortunately, assessment of this whale found it to be compromised and suffering, and the most humane course of action was euthanasia," according to a foundation release.
A team of well-meaning residents attempted to push the creature out to deeper waters. However, despite the good neighbor aspect, that's problematic on several fronts, said foundation spokeswoman Rachel Bosworth.
For one thing, marine mammals and sea turtles are federally protected, meaning it's illegal to interact with them, with the public called on to maintain a 150 foot distance. There's also a safety concern for the would-be rescuers, she said, as the creatures are "so much bigger and already in distress."
While New Jersey has had northern bottlenose strandings, this is the first reported in New York.
A team including biologists and interns returned Wednesday morning, relocated the remains to the Nevada Boulevard area, and plan to perform a necropsy in the afternoon.
That will shed light on cause of death, the foundation said, which could include various scenarios, including illness, ingestion of marine debris and ship strike.
The whale, a female around 14 feet long, is of a species that can reach around 32 feet, weighing in at up to 17,000 pounds, according to NOAA Fisheries. The largest of the beaked whale family, they're found in a wide range in the North Atlantic.