The body of a dead humpback whale washed up on Fire Island National Seashore, officials said Sunday.
The Atlantic Marine Conservation Society said the carcass, an estimated 35 to 40 feet long, was in an advanced state of decomposition when it washed up at Point O’Woods on Fire Island.
Society director Kimberly Durham will work with local officials to determine a plan to remove the remains, chief scientist Rob DiGiovanni said. Burial on the beach is often the most viable option, he said.
Durham will also take measurements and perform a necropsy to determine how the animal died, according to the conservation society.
Whale deaths have spiked in recent years along the mid-Atlantic coast, DiGiovanni said. The carcass discovered Sunday is the fourth dead whale found on Long Island this year. A sperm whale and two other humpbacks, including a juvenile found in Long Beach on May 18, washed up on local beaches. Fourteen whales were found on Long Island beaches last year.
DiGiovanni said the spike in beached remains may be due to the fact that there are more whales in the region, thanks to a greater supply of food such as bunker.
The Suffolk Police Department’s Marine Patrol is working with the group to secure the area around the whale. Society officials said people should stay at least 150 feet away from live or deceased marine mammals, which are covered by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, because of safety issues and the risks of disease transmission.