NOAA: No evidence Breezy Point whale was hit by vessel

Volunteers pour water on a beached whale to Volunteers pour water on a beached whale to keep it alive in the Rockaway Inlet off Breezy Point. (Dec. 26, 2012) Photo Credit: John Roca

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The finback whale found beached in Breezy Point, Queens, had no food in its stomach and showed no visible signs of being hit by a vessel, said authorities in charge of its necropsy.

Tissue samples were collected and an examination done of the whale, which died Thursday after washing up for a second time. A local resident had discovered it beached in Breezy Point on Wednesday morning, struggling to live, and the afternoon's high tide washed it out. The whale was found the next morning on the shore of the Gateway National Recreation Area.

The mammal was in a "poor nutritional state," according to a preliminary report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which was in charged of the finback's fate because of the species' endangered status.

Lesions were found in the finback's stomach and kidneys, said Mendy Garron, NOAA's stranding coordinator for the Northeast. There were no signs so far that its death was related to injuries caused by humans, such as fishing interaction or a strike by a sea vessel, she said.

The whale was about 60 feet long and weighed 25 to 30 tons, half the typical weight for a finback of that length, said marine biologists from the Riverhead Foundation, which led Friday's necropsy.

The necropsy team started and finished its work Friday after heavy equipment was used to tow the whale to higher ground on the dunes, above the high tide line.

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The whale was being buried early Friday evening on the spot where the necropsy was done, NOAA said.

No cause of death can be determined until lab results come back from the tissues, and authorities said that can take months.

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