33-Foot-Long Humpback Whale Washes Up North of Bethany - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

33-Foot-Long Humpback Whale Washes Up North of Bethany

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The MERR Institute estimated this whale to be approximately 33,000 pounds (Source: Suzanne Thurman) The MERR Institute estimated this whale to be approximately 33,000 pounds (Source: Suzanne Thurman)
The whale was first seen by a neighbor Friday morning (Source: Suzanne Thurman) The whale was first seen by a neighbor Friday morning (Source: Suzanne Thurman)

BETHANY BEACH, Del. - Some neighbors in the Bethany Beach area stumbled upon a 33,000-pound surprise Friday morning, when a Humpback Whale washed ashore. The 33-foot-long whale, which is part of an endangered species, was found dead on the beach by the Pelican's Pouch community, off of Route One.

The whale was reported by a neighbor at approximately 6:30 a.m., according to Suzanne Thurman, from the MERR Institute. A crew from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control used a dozer to move the whale to dry sand where a necropsy was conducted by the MERR Institute. 

"Since it's such a huge animal," Thurman said. "It's difficult to get to the internal organs. So there's a process involved. And our goal is to access all the organs - the lungs, the heart, the brain, everything we can to test for disease and bio-toxins." 

Thurman said that the initial study showed that the whale was male and no more than a couple years old. She said It was still unclear how it died, although it appears to have "blunt force trauma," which might indicate that the creature was hit by a boat. Thurman said finding the cause for death is important, because whales can be used as a "barometer" to test the quality of the water. 

"These marine mammals," she said. "They're mammals just like we are, but they live in the oceans. And they're susceptible to a lot of toxins and environmental issues that's going on in their marine habitat. And since we as humans access the oceans. Some people eat food from the oceans, we are susceptible to the same things that impacts these animals."

Tony Pratt, from DNREC's Shoreline and Waterway Management Section, said that crews will be back on the beach at 6:00 a.m. Saturday morning to bury the creature. 

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