Cape Hedge Beach, Rockport County, Massachusetts, United States, North America, North Atlantic Ocean
14 May 2007
Bryan McGonigle, Gloucester Daily Times, 17 V 2007
Published: May 17, 2007 12:00 am Officials: Young whale died from vessel strike By Bryan McGonigle , Staff writer Gloucester DailyTimes ROCKPORT-A vessel struck and killed the young humpback whale found at Cape Hedge Beach earlier this week, officials said yesterday. "We had a whale that died very rapidly, and in this case, we have trauma that is the direct cause of this animal's death," New England Aquarium spokesman Tony LaCasse said. According to the necropsy report filed by Dr. Michael Moore of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, who led the team conducting the examination, "the animal succumbed within hours after major blunt trauma to the chest, neck and head." Throughout that area, the whale had widespread swelling and bruising in its muscle tissue and hemorrhaging in the brain-clear signs of a vessel strike.A plastic bottle was also found in the whale's stomach. Researchers from theNew England Aquarium in Boston,the Whale Center of New England in Gloucester and the Riverview Foundationof Long Island, N.Y., spent most of yesterday examining the body. Nowauthorities are lookingfor any informationthat can helpshed light on the details of the whale's death. "The animal would have had to suffer that trauma sometime between Sunday night and Monday morning," LaCasse said. "We are interested in other reports from anybody who saw the animal when it was alive either Sundayor Monday, or if anybody had seen the animal dead before Monday night, before 7 p.m." The first report of the whale's death animal came Mondayat 7:30 p.m. Neither the Coast Guard nor the Gloucester or Rockport harbormasters' offices received any reports recently about boaters hitting any wildlife. A vessel can be anythingfrom a small boat to a large yacht. Many whales are killed every year along the East Coast by vessel strikes,LaCasse said. NewEngland waters have a high density of both whales and vessel traffic, particularly in the stretch between Boston and New York.There are between 300 and 700 humpbacks in U.S. Atlantic waters. "Female humpbacks migrate down to the Caribbean in the winter to give birth, literally going J down a gauntlet of huge ports down the coast," LaCasse said. The necropsy report will be passed on to National Marine Fishery Service and then to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees all ocean-related regulatoryagencies Researchers will collect pathology results onsome of the tissue samples taken to see if the humpback was somehowdebilitated whenit was hit by the vessel. "This animal was considered to be in fairly good condition before it was hit by the vessel," LaCasse said. "It's behavior immediately prior to its death was vigorous and healthy, and it was feeding off that area off Cape Hedge Beach." The whale was about 2 years old. Humpbacks can live up toabout 50. An alarming trend Whether it's pollution, disease or boat collisions, humpback whales-which are an endangered species-have been dying at afaster rate in the past few years than previously.
Record Last Modified:
28 May 2019
Animalia, Chordata, Vertebrata, Mammalia, Eutheria, Cetacea, Mysticeti, Balaenopteridae