The carcass of a juvenile whale that could be a humpback washed up in Long Beach, officials said on Friday, potentially a sign that the spike in whale deaths that began in 2016 continues.
People should stay at least 150 feet away from the whale, which washed ashore near Lafayette Boulevard, advised the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society in a statement.
The creature “still poses a safety threat in the surf and is a protected species,” the Hampton Bays-based nonprofit said.
The City of Long Beach Public Works Department surveyed and photographed the whale, estimating its length at about 20 to 25 feet, officials said.
Adult humpbacks can grow as long as 60 feet or so, weigh around 40 tons and live for half a century.
The nonprofit plans to send a team out on Saturday to confirm the whale’s species and measure it.
Though humpbacks returned to New York waters in the past few years as the water quality improved, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has been tracking a rise in their deaths along the Atlantic Coast since January 2016.
Though some of the 68 humpbacks that stranded from Maine to Florida through March 16, 2018 were struck by boats, more research must be done to learn why the others died, NOAA has said.
So far, nine humpbacks stranded this year, according to NOAA.
This would be the third for New York state, the nonprofit said, if it is indeed a humpback.