Two whales wash up on East Hampton beaches

A large 50-to-60-foot whale, believed to be a A large 50-to-60-foot whale, believed to be a humpback, washed up along the ocean beach in Amagansett Sunday morning, just east of the Windward Shores condominium complex on the Napeague Stretch. The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation is responding to assess the whale. (Jan. 13, 2013) Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

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Two whales -- one dead and one later euthanized -- washed up on separate stretches of East Hampton beaches Sunday, just hours apart from one another.

Scientists with the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation are trying to determine the cause of death for a 59-foot-long female finback whale discovered in Napeague, and a 5-foot-long juvenile pygmy sperm whale found in Amagansett, said Kim Durham, rescue coordinator for the group.

"We don't think the two are connected," Durham said.

East Hampton's Marine Patrol first responded to an 8 a.m. call about the finback that was found along a stretch of beach in Napeague near the Windward Shores Condominium, East Hampton police Sgt. Daniel Roman said.

"Right now the whale is being safeguarded and we're making arrangements to remove it," Roman said.

Durham said there's "no outward appearances of what may have caused the animal's death," and a necropsy will be performed Monday.

As marine scientists were tending to the first whale, East Hampton's Marine Patrol received a call around 2:30 p.m. alerting them to the beached pygmy, Durham said.

While the male pygmy, which weighed about 150 pounds, was discovered alive, Durham said it appeared "sickly" and had skin lesions, leading biologists on the scene to euthanize the estimated 2-year-old whale.

"Typically pygmies are not found this far north; they tend to be Southern species," Durham said. "They tend to be in warmer waters, that, coupled with the young age of the animal, leaves a lot of things still in question about how it ended up here."

A necropsy is scheduled for the pygmy Tuesday, she said.

The whale beachings come nearly three weeks after an emaciated 60-foot female finback whale washed up on a Breezy Point, Queens, beach in late December.

Durham said a necropsy of the Breezy Point whale determined it died due to kidney failure caused by a parasite, but it did not appear the finback found Sunday was dealing with the same illness.

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