HEMPSTEAD, Long Island (WABC) -- Three dead whales have washed up on Tri-State beaches in the past four days, prompting scientists to study why it keeps happening.
A necropsy is now underway on the humpback whale that washed up this week in Long Beach, Long Island.
The whale was said to be 26 feet long, a male, and between the ages of 2 and 5 years old.
It was spotted floating in the water at Atlantic Beach around 5 p.m. Monday and later washed up at Long Beach.
Parts of the whale will be buried in pieces on the beach.
Data shows New York and New Jersey have the highest number of humpback whale strandings along the East Coast.
Reports from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration show from January until May of this year, there have been six unusual humpback whale deaths in New York and seven in New Jersey.
Researchers are working to figure out why more dead whales are washing ashore.
"Of those whales that we've been able to necropsy, we've found that 40% of those have shown evidence of vessel strikes or fishing gear entanglement as the cause of death," said NOAA spokesperson Andrea Gomez.
Scientists say the trend has been moving upward since 2016 with more than 200 humpbacks washing ashore along the East Coast.
Last week a whale that washed ashore in Smith Point Park showed evidence of a vessel strike. Another, that appeared to be a baby whale, washed up in Long Branch, New Jersey, on Saturday.
Researches say climate change is a factor.
"Warming ocean temperatures, the humpback whales are following their main prey, the menhaden, so they're swimming closer to shore," Gomez said.
And that means that the whales are now also closer to more traffic.
If you see an injured or entangled live or dead whale, call the 24-hour stranding hotline at (866) 755-6622.
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