60-foot-long whale found on NY beach

Posted at 11:51 AM, Dec 27, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-27 12:10:51-05

(Photo Credit: Point Breeze Fire Department FB)

By Kristina Sgueglia, CNN

Update – CNN reports the whale has died, as of Noon Thursday, EST. 

(CNN) — A 60-foot-long whale that was discovered still breathing on a New York beach Wednesday morning is likely to die overnight, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Biologists have been closely monitoring the status of the whale since its discovery early Wednesday morning. Late Wednesday, the whale was still alive but it was “emaciated and in poor physical condition so there is nothing that can be done to save the whale,” NOAA spokesperson Allison McHale told CNN.

NOAA is hoping “nature will take its course” and the whale will die overnight. If the whale is still alive by Thursday morning, NOAA plans to euthanize the whale “humanely,” according to McHale.

The whale was first spotted by a passer-by on a morning stroll. The passer-by called 911.

“We thought it was dead when we arrived, but then it started moving,” Nick Ecock of Point Breeze Volunteer Fire Department told CNN Wednesday.

Ecock and fellow members of the fire department discovered the whale at 11 a.m. near Beach 216th Street and Palmer Place, on the north side of the Breezy Point neighborhood, a town still reeling from the damages of Superstorm Sandy.

The whale was found half in the water and half in the sand, according to New York Police Department Officer James Duffy. The whale was alive but looked injured, Duffy added.

“We are keeping it wet and dousing it with water to keep it breathing,” Duffy said.

Ecock said that when biologists from Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research on Long Island arrived at mid-afternoon, they determined the mammal was a male Fin whale, the second largest species of whale.

“It doesn’t look like its going to make it. It’s cut up from all the shells,” Ecock said. He added that the whale was emaciated-looking, and a biologist on the scene indicated the whale might have been sick for a while.

“It’s stuck in (water) five feet deep at most,” Ecock said.

Ecock said he hoped that a four-foot sea surge expected Wednesday night due to inclement weather would help foster the whale’s return to the wild.

The Point Breeze Volunteer Fire Department posted pictures of the whale on social media.

NOAA plans to perform a necropsy after the whale’s death to determine the cause of the whale’s condition.