The Minke whale that washed up on the Coney Island beach this week has an official cause of death attached to it, now that biologists have had an opportunity to evaluate the creature. It appeared as though the whale was was hit by a boat propeller, and now, it appears as if that was the case. The propeller took off part of the whales skull, as well as creating several lacerations down the back of the mammal. Questions have swirled around the incident and some have asked questions about the boat that it might have encountered, and what might have spurred the interaction.
While it would be difficult to prove any wrongdoing, some activists are taking the opportunity to talk about the growing concern around boat traffic, how it’s increasing, and what kind of impact that is having on the overall ocean community – such as its life and organisms. The necropsy was conducted by the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation.
The span of beach was shut down for most of the night as research was conducted. However, officials pointed out that the whale washed up on shore just east of the Coney Island amusement park, which draws thousands of tourists and locals each day. The necropsy also revealed that the female whale was likely feeding on chum at the time of the accident, and this was likely why the whale didn’t notice the boat which could have been quickly approaching.
The whale was roughly 18 feet long and was originally found around 2pm. Paul Sieswerda of Gotham Whale pointed out that, “They are seen off the end of Long Island – in deeper waters.” He went on to point out that, “We usually see humpback whales and an occasional finback.” Onlookers and locals though were quite surprised by the event and the death of the whale, which sparked a lot of questions in and of itself.
A local, Anthony Diaz pointed out that seeing something like this simply wasn’t something that happened very often. He elaborated by pointing out that, “I’ve lived here a long time, and I’ve never once seen a beached whale.” He continued, “They come close to shore sometimes, but I’ve never seen one beached like this.”
The consensus seems to be at this point that the event itself is somewhat rare and raising some interesting questions in terms of what might have happened to that whale while it was out to see. The team investigating the matter believes that the whale was killed within two days of being discovered, which would indicate that it happened at the end of the weekend. Still, little is known about the beached Minke whale, and not much more might be learned before the case is closed.