A True's beaked whale found washed up in Westhampton Beach on June 30 died of starvation, marine experts believe.
The Riverhead Foundation conducted a necropsy Thursday morning at its facility in Riverhead and researchers found the 8-foot calf's stomach empty and signs of malnourishment. The whale was likely still dependent on its mother for food and got separated, leading to its death, according to a news release.
Although the carcass was scavenged by animals and appeared in poor condition, Riverhead biologists believe the whale died a few days before it was discovered. It was not clear who discovered the whale's carcass.
True's beaked whales are a rare find alive or dead, although officials responded in 2014 when a mother and her calf washed ashore, according to the release. The animals can reach 15 to 17.5 feet long, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and typically live in the deep ocean, far from shores.
The whale carcass was the second discovered on Long Island beaches within 24 hours last week. The Riverhead Foundation also conducted a necropsy on a 28-foot juvenile humpback whale on Wednesday on a Fire Island beach. That whale was found to have injuries consistent with a ship strike.
Individuals can report stranded or dead marine animals, including whales, seals and sea turtles, to the Riverhead Foundation's hotline at 631-369-9829.