Stranded humpback whale stuck in sandbar off Long Island euthanized

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
A young humpback whale was stuck in the Moriches Bay area off Long Island for about a week, despite experts' efforts to move it to deeper waters.

MORICHES BAY, Long Island (WABC) -- A young humpback whale that's been stuck on a sandbar off Long Island for days has been euthanized, officials said Wednesday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the whale was put down Friday afternoon. It had been stranded in Moriches Bay in about 1-to-2 feet water since Sunday.

All options to free the whale failed. An environmental group tried to move the whale, but that didn't work. They also tried to create wave action by boat, to no success. The mammal wasn't even able to free itself during high tide cycles.

The organizations that have been working to try to help the whale -- Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and North Carolina State University - issued this update:

"The veterinary team assessed the animal this morning and determined it was thin, limp, weak, minimally responsive, had evidence of neurological abnormalities, and extensive skin injuries with evidence of infection. Based upon these findings, the most humane option was to euthanize the whale since its chance of surviving in the wild was minimal. The whale was successfully euthanized using injectable medications with the time of death being approximately 1:20 p.m."

NOAA said the whale will soon be moved to a safe location for necropsy. They hope to figure out what caused the whale to become stranded and see what they can do differently in the future.

"Generally speaking, when large whales strand (even if they were previously observed feeding), there may be underlying health issues such as illness or malnutrition. Thus, refloating a large whale may not be in its best interest, as it is already sick," said NOAA in a news release.

Anyone who spots a stranded whale should contact NOAA at 631-369-9829.

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