We are almost to whale watching season here in our area.
The peak season is January and February for humpbacks. One washed up on the shore of the Outer Banks between Avon and Buxton on Dec. 8. The National Park Service said its death is likely due to the fishing line wrapped around its tail fluke.
The 16,000-pound animal is nearly 34 feet long and was on its way to warmer waters.
“They’re migrating from high latitudes up north where the feeding grounds are to the West Indies area where the mating and calving grounds are,” Senior Scientist Alex Costidis with the Virginia Aquarium explains. “It’s any marine mammal that is dead, sick, impaired, entangled or even out of habitat."
The whale found meets that criteria. A National Park Service representative said strandings are not uncommon, with 27 reported in our area since 2008.
So what do you do if you come across a stranded marine mammal?
“Keep a safe distance both for your safety and the animals' safety and because there are laws about approaching too closely,” Costidis said.
In Virginia, you should also call the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team at 757-385-7575.
Scientists are working to determine the cause of death for this particular whale. They said it will be removed sometime next week.