Scientists from the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society gathered Friday on the ocean beach just west of Shinnecock Inlet to perform a necropsy in an attempt to determine what killed a humpback whale that police said floated into Shinnecock Bay on Thursday.
The whale was discovered just before 4 p.m. by Southampton Town Marine units responding to a call reporting the dead whale, which had floated in through the inlet from the Atlantic Ocean to the bay.
Southampton Town police said marine officers, with assistance from police patrol officers, the AMCS and responders from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, towed the whale out of the bay and back into the Atlantic, where its carcass was "secured to the beach front, west of the inlet." The whale was at Ponquogue Beach in Hampton Bays on Friday.
On Friday, police said crews from Suffolk County would use heavy machinery to drag the whale carcass ashore so the necropsy can be performed. The whale will then be buried, police said.
Police said a town excavator operator suffered minor injuries to his arm when a cable being used to secure and move the whale snapped Thursday, shattering a window in the excavator.
The operator, who was not identified, was taken to a hospital and released, police said.
On Wednesday, the Marine Mammal Stranding Center reported a dead whale found floating in Raritan Bay in New Jersey.
Officials estimate that so far this year that some 20 whales have either washed ashore or been found floating dead along the East Coast — a number of those in Long Island waters.
On May 19, New York State Park Police cordoned off an area of Field 5 at Robert Moses State Park after a dead whale was found washed ashore there. The beached whale was believed to be a juvenile humpback measuring 18 to 20 feet. As will be the case with the dead humpback whale found in Shinnecock, the AMCS performed a necropsy — though the results on that cause of death remain pending.
Earlier in May, the body of a 24-foot-long Minke whale was found washed ashore in Westhampton Beach.
The AMCS has responded to at least 10 large whale-beaching events or deaths so far this year as part of the NOAA Fisheries Unusual Mortality Event.