NEW: The 60-foot-long finback whale was determined by experts to be dead
NEW: It washed ashore in the Breezy Point neighborhood of Queens
NEW: It showed signs of life at first after it was discovered by a passer-by
A necropsy performed on the beach is planned, a marine preservation group says
A 60-foot-long finback whale that washed ashore in the Breezy Point neighborhood of Queens and that was determined dead Thursday morning will be buried in the sand dunes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The whale could not be moved on Thursday because the National Park equipment that would ordinarily be used was “destroyed by Hurricane Sandy,” said NOAA spokeswoman Allison McHale.
The plan now is to transport the carcass on Friday with the joint effort of the National Park Service and New York City Sanitation. Both agencies have reached out to the Army Corps of Engineers, which has the type of heavy equipment that needed, according to McHale.
The National Park Service has agreed to let the whale be buried on the beach where it is currently located, up in the sand dunes where the high water line will prevent erosion, McHale said.
“The necropsy will then be conducted either tomorrow or Saturday,” McHale said, “depending on when the whale is moved.”
The whale was first discovered Wednesday morning on a beach in Breezy Point, a community still reeling from Superstorm Sandy, and biologists had been closely monitoring the status of the whale since its discovery.
“What we will do next is determine where the animal will remain, if we are able to bury it on the beach, or if it will need to be moved,” Rob Digiovanni, executive director and senior biologist for the Riverhead Foundation, a Long Island-based marine research and preservation group, said earlier Thursday.
“That would be a discussion we need to have when we get there. Our plan is to do a necropsy on the beach to find out why it died.”
Disposal of the carcass remained a challenge.
“In the past they (have) been buried on the beach, disposed of in a landfill, or towed out to sea,” said McHale.
Late Wednesday, the whale was still alive but it was “emaciated and in poor physical condition so there is nothing that can be done to save the whale,” she said then.
“We thought it was dead when we arrived, but then it started moving,” Nick Ecock of Point Breeze Volunteer Fire Department said Wednesday.