The 41-foot-long humpback whale that washed up on a Long Island beach Monday was likely struck and killed by a vessel, federal authorities suspect.
The massive mammal, a male named Luna, may have been trying to breach the surface when a ship slammed into him, officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday.
“An accident maybe, or she was sick,” marine scientist Cara Patino told ABC 7. “My heart is really sad for the whale.”
Marine officials also revealed that they are very familiar with Luna — scientists have been tracking the whale for its four decades of life, though they last pinged Luna in September in Nova Scotia.
Scientists believe he was killed several days before he was found washed up on the shores of Lido Beach West Town Park in Nassau County early Monday morning.
Though an official necropsy could take several more weeks, early results indicate Luna’s body had already begun decomposing, contradicting early reports that the whale had beached itself.
The enormous leviathan weighs about 29,000 pounds — or 14.5 tons, officials said.
Investigators needed to use a crane to move Luna to higher ground Tuesday so that they could begin cutting the carcass for the necropsy.
Though beached whales have become common on the Jersey Shore, Luna is the first the town of Hempstead has seen in years.
“This is by far the largest,” Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin said. “The crews that have been here for almost two decades have never seen a whale this size.”
NOAA said at least 19 humpback whales were stranded along the Atlantic coast last year and 178 were found stranded in the last eight years.
Seven whales washed up on the Jersey Shore in just a little over one month.
With Post wires
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