A Minke whale washed up on Coney Island Beach on Monday afternoon in Brooklyn, New York, just east of the family-friendly amusement park. The 20-foot-long mammal was found by the Boardwalk at Ocean Parkway around 2p.m.
The Minke Whale’s Condition
The whale was of course, already dead when it reached Coney Island’s shores according to Kim Durham program director for the Riverhead Foundation. The running theory is that a collision with the propeller of a ship was the cause of death. Riverhead Foundation studies and rescues marine mammals. The poor Minke whale was badly cut, hurt by the propeller’s strikes after colliding with the ship. It was also partially decapitated, the autopsy revealing its head had been sliced by the propeller.
A Difficult Necropsy
The Riverhead Foundation performed its necropsy later that day. It was determined to be an adult female Minke whale, but its age was less determinable. Marine biologists generally use ear bones to age whales but due to the terrible decapitation, the top portion of her skull and her ear bones were missing.
Further Study of The Whale
A thorough investigation led Kim Durham and her team to conclude that the Minke whale was killed within the last two days. Its stomach contained fish bones, a sign that the whale was eating at the time of her fatal impact with the ship. Durham collected samples of skin, tissue and muscle for the Riverhead Foundation’s lab. The whale’s reproductive organs and stomach were also kept for further pathological study of this incredible mammal.
It took not one but three Parks Department trucks to cut up and take away the whale’s remains. It will be disposed of properly, assured Parks Department officials.
Marine Mammals in New York
While minke whales are not uncommon in New York City’s waters, it’s certainly not everyday that a whale washes up on Coney Island’s shores. Durham tells us this is the third dead whale to beach along the coast of Long Island in the first half of this year alone. For comparative purposes, she also brings to our attention that in all of 2014 there was a total of three dead whales along this region.
Whales, sharks, and dolphins have been moving closer and closer to the shores of New York City due to the conservation efforts surrounding the clean-up of New York City’s surrounding waters. The clean-up leads for more feed. It also leads to more sightings.Seeing more dolphins and whales? This has to be a good sign, but it is also a reason to be more careful about sharing the waters.