UPDATE: Whale washes ashore on Seventh Street beach

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Whale on Ocean City beach Photo by Bill Barlow

(3:26 p.m. Jan. 24)

OCEAN CITY — Springlike temperatures and the chance to see a whale that washed up Monday on the Seventh Street beach drew hundreds to the boardwalk on Tuesday.

Spectators clustered along the railing, climbing onto benches and craning for a better look at the eight overall-clad Marine Mammal Stranding Center personnel who were conducting a necropsy on the adult male fin whale.

Using a sharpener located in the back of the red MMSC truck parked on the boardwalk, a technician from the center honed a blade on a long-handled tool for use in cutting through the 60-foot-long mammal's carcass.

The necropsy, conducted to determine the cause of death, would take four to five hours to complete. The technician said the team would first peel back the creature's blubber and examine it for damage. Then, the muscle layer would be peeled back and the organs inspected for deterioration.

Authorities have said they believe the whale is one that was spotted dead in a shipping channel last week in New York. It is believed the whale was killed in an impact with a large vessel.

The MMSC tech said the team had determined the whale was an adult because it measured in excess of 56 feet in length. Measuring and photographing the carcass is the first step in the necropsy. She said the whale's weight was unknown at this time, but that fin whales can weigh up to 70 tons.



(6:30 p.m. Jan. 23)


Staff Writer

OCEAN CITY – The crowd on the Seventh Street beach swelled after 2:30 p.m. Monday as the school day ended and high school students and teachers rushed to the scene to catch a glimpse of a dead whale floating in the shallow water.

First spotted by police after noon, the whale washed close to shore around 1:20 p.m.

Beth Kelly, an Ocean City High School gym teacher, exited the beach about 2:45 p.m., walking against a growing tide of spectators. An Intermediate School special education teacher avoided the traffic jam on Seventh Street by parking half a block south on Plymouth Place. He hustled up the ramp, accompanied by his brother, intent on checking out a report his students had shared: The whale’s blow hole was still bubbling, a sign the massive creature was still alive.

The report proved to be false. The stench of the animal’s carcass indicated it had died elsewhere and had been borne by the tides to its resting place. It was not beached or against the jetty, but, instead, enough afloat that incoming waves gave the impression the massive mammal was moving a flipper. The pink, tan and gray underbelly was exposed, but its head was not.

A uniformed National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration representative said the whale could be one of several species, but he was not willing to guess which. A necropsy, conducted by the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, will determine the type of whale and the cause of its death. A stranding center spokesperson said the whale was of the minke or fin species.

The whale carcass likely weighs several tons.

The dead whale sways with the waves, its tan, pink and gray underbelly visible. The dead whale sways with the waves, its tan, pink and gray underbelly visible.



(1:27 p.m. Jan. 23)

A whale washed ashore on the Seventh Street beach around 1:20 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23. Police at the scene say that they saw the whale floating in the water near the shoreline just after noon. The type of whale has not yet been identified. Representatives from the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine are on their way.

As of early Monday afternoon, a crowd gathered in the foggy drizzle, while police and public works crews set up barricades on the beach. The crew on scene said they did not know how they would remove the remains of the huge animal, which looked to be more than 40 feet long and likely weighing several tons. They said they hoped to get some guidance from the stranding center.

It was clear that the animal had been dead for some time before it washed ashore.

More information to come.

—Bill Barlow

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