The 17-foot minke whale washed ashore Friday on the harbor side...

The 17-foot minke whale washed ashore Friday on the harbor side of Centre Island Beach. Credit: AMCS/DEC/Robert Kaufheer

The young 17-foot-long minke whale that stranded Friday on Centre Island Beach and swam away only to wash ashore appears to have died from disease and had been ill for some time, officials said.

A five-hour necropsy on the very underweight male, possibly 3 years old or younger, revealed signs of disease, the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society said Saturday. “The animal did not have evidence of human interaction or trauma,” the Hampton Bays-based nonprofit's statement said.

It likely will take several months to pinpoint why the subadult, or sexually immature, whale died, by analyzing samples that were taken, it said. 

The whale weighed only about 2,860 pounds, the conservation society said. Adults can grow to weigh 20,000 pounds and as long as 35 feet, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

This year, minke whales joined bottlenose dolphins and harbor and gray seals on the federal agency’s list of marine animals suffering from an unusual mortality event, a “stranding that is unexpected; involves a significant die-off of any marine mammal population; and demands immediate response."

This is the 13th large whale stranding this year that the nonprofit said it has handled.

To report a stranding, call the NYS Stranding Hotline at 631-369-9829  and sightings to   

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