Humpback Whale Washes Ashore in Lewes - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Humpback Whale Washes Ashore in Lewes

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LEWES, Del.- A young, female humpback whale washed ashore at The Point section of Cape Henlopen State Park this weekend.

On Monday, volunteers and onlookers came out to examine the deceased whale, and eventually bury her on the beach.

"She has been hit by a boat, whether that was post mortem or not we will try to determine," explains Suzanne Thurman with the MERR Institute. "She's been scavenged by sharks as well and we'll see if we can find anything else that indicates other illness or injury as we go through our examination."

Thurman says the whale is a young teenager, and is the sixth to wash ashore in Delaware since 2016. Thurman explains that across the East Coast, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has classified humpback whales as dying at an unusual rate.

"There are many more along the east coast that have succumbed, most of them are among the same age class," she says. "In addition, there are two other large whale species that are also under some mutaneous unusual mortality events."

Samples from the whale will be sent to a lab, providing critical data on the whale's death and other information on the humpback whale species.

"When we had the dolphin die off in 2013 [...] we were able through sampling efforts to determine a common denominator of morbillivirus. That is certainly something that is being looked at," Thurman says. "For us, most of the whales are so decomposed that we can't get really valid samples from them to determine that disease factor but we are going to try our best with this one."

A humpback whale washed up on Deauville Beach in Rehoboth last May. In the summer of 2016, a young male humpback whale washed ashore north of Bethany Beach.

The MERR Institute hopes that this recent event raises awareness about whales and encourages the public to protect their habitat.

 

 

 

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