A rare whale washed ashore Sunday in Southampton, N.Y.
The 1-ton corpse of a True’s beaked whale was found by a jogger at about 9 a.m., an hour after it was spotted alive thrashing along the surf’s edge. The jogger had seen someone push the whale out into the water, but an hour later it appeared back on the beach, the Associated Press reports.
"It has been ID'd as a female True's beaked whale. Very rare," Kim Durham of the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation said. “We don’t get many encounters with them, dead or alive.”
At first the jogger called the preservation foundation saying there was a "live dolphin" on the beach. The Foundation asked for photos, but then the jogger saw someone pushing the animal off the beach and back into the water. About 90 minutes later, the whale was found dead onshore.
"When dealing with a federally protected marine animal, we suggest not to take action until you report it," Durham said about the incident. "More importantly, moving it is not in the animal's best interest. The animal is on the beach for a reason. There is also potential to really hurt yourself."
Sea life experts plan to conduct an autopsy on Monday to determine the whale’s cause of death. True's beaked whales are typically found in deep, warm-temperate waters in the North Atlantic Ocean. They are also found in the Southern Hemisphere, although their coloration is different from those found in northern waters. Named after Frederick W. True, a curator at the Smithsonian Institution, the rare whales can measure anywhere from 15.5 to 17 feet long.
The one found in the Hamptons was younger and thinner than the average True’s beaked whale. "She shouldn't have been that skinny," Durham told The Southhampton Press. "We'll find out if it was parasites or disease that made her sick."
Southampton Village Highway Department workers used a payloader and a backhoe to remove the 1-ton animal from the beach and transported it to the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation headquarters in Riverhead, N.Y.
"They tried to get us to put it in the pickup truck, and it slid right out," Corey Swezey, a highway department employee, said. He added that other drivers gave confused looks when they saw the truck driving through the village with the whale on-board.
Chris Brenner, second assistant chief for the Southampton Volunteer Fire Department, told Newsday that firefighters were asked to help remove the whale, but it was soon determined that it was too large to be moved by hand.
“It was a really beautiful whale,” Brenner said.