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UPDATE: Dead Pygmy Sperm Whale Was Underweight

The whale, discovered Wednesday night, was 9 feet long and weighed 800 pounds.

UPDATE: Robert DiGiovanni, the director and senior biologist of the Riverhead Foundation, said the whale was underweight, indicating that it did not die suddenly. There were no obviously signs of trauma, he said.

“It could have been that the animal was sick and wasn’t eating as much,” he said.

DiGiovanni also noted that the pigmy whale was in an advanced state of decomposition and had probably been dead for a week.

According to DiGiovanni, a necropsy will be performed soon — but the foundation is first examining a white-sided dolphin found the same day is Sagaponack. The dolphin, he explained died more recently, so there is more that can be learned than from the whale in its state of decomposition.

The Riverhead Foundation, which responds to beached and washed up marine mammals throughout the entire state, has encountered about 20 deceased pygmy sperms whales in 30 years, DiGiovanni said.

Performing necropsies on marine mammals can tell biologists if there is something going on in the environment that needs to be addressed, he said.

Previous: An adult pygmy sperm whale was discovered 500 feet from the shore near 901 Dune Road in West Hampton Dunes on Wednesday night, according to Aram Terchunian, the commissioner of wildlife protection for the village.

Terchunian said the whale was found by Trustee Catherine Woolfson and her son, Liam, while combing the beach.

The whale, which was 9 feet long and 800 pounds, was already dead when it was found.

"It is very rare to find a whale of this size washed up on the beach," Terchunian said.

Terchunian said it is unclear why the whale died and that the is investigating.

Terchunian said it took a coordinated effort to remove the whale from the beach because vehicles are restricted from driving on the beach during plover season.

"The whale had to be manually removed," said Terchunian, noting that the whale was transported to the Riverhead Foundation for necropsy at 3 p.m. on Thursday.

"We were very excited to see such an amazing creature, but saddened when we realized that it was not alive," Woolfson said.

michele cassata May 04, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Hello, Wow, I was amazed to hear the story!! But three weeks ago I was walking on the beach in the early evening with my two dogs and from afar, stumbled across what I believed to have been a baby seal!! I could not approach with my dogs and luckily there was a young couple resting on the beach in which I spoke with and informed them of my concern that it appeared to be in trouble....I watched from a distance and was happy to see that this couple ran out for help and I believe they managed to get the seal back into the water....This also was in the same proximity of the Dunes!!! Wonder whats going on out there?
George May 05, 2012 at 01:36 AM
As a frequent visitor to Cupsogue I can assure you that there's a healthy population of seals in that area. In late April the CRESLI group documented 75 harp, hooded and harbor seals. Occasionally, they end up on the beach to sun themselves and or molt only to be harassed by people with their dogs. That's what's going on.

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