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Officials: Necropsy planned for humpback whale in East Atlantic Beach

A humpback whale washed up in East Atlantic

A humpback whale washed up in East Atlantic Beach on Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017. Credit: Artie Raslich

Conservationists are planning a necropsy Wednesday to determine the cause of death of a humpback whale that washed up in East Atlantic Beach.

The whale, about 31 feet long, was reported to the U.S. Coast Guard and Nassau County police about 7 a.m. Tuesday, on the beach at the end of Rochester Avenue, Coast Guard officials said.

The nonprofit group Gotham Whale photographed and reported the whale to officials. The Town of Hempstead, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society were working on a disposal plan.

Atlantic Marine Conservation Society spokeswoman Rachel Bosworth said authorities probably would not reach the whale Tuesday because of high tide, and response efforts were expected to begin Wednesday.

The Town of Hempstead and its sanitation department were providing heavy equipment if the whale needed to be moved for disposal.

The ideal option was to bury the whale on the beach, rather than take it out to sea, Bosworth said. The whale also could be taken to a town sanitation center.

The whale is likely to weigh about 30 tons, Gotham Whale president Paul Sieswerda said.

“It’s tough to move those critters around, and the best solution is usually to dispose of it and bury it,” Sieswerda said.

The Atlantic Marine Conservation Society also was investigating the death of a dolphin found Saturday near the Montauk lighthouse.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has declared an unusual mortality rate for whales found since late 2016, Sieswerda said.

“There has been an unusually high number of humpbacks and North American right whales during the last year,” Sieswerda said. “There have been an extraordinary number of whales found on the Atlantic seaboard.”

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