Necropsy of beached humpback whale on hold

A humpback whale carcass on the rocks of Beavertail State Park in Jamestown. Photo: Corey Welch/WPRI-TV

JAMESTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Weather-related issues are contributing to a delay of hauling away and examining a humpback whale that beached this weekend at Beavertail State Park in Jamestown, according to Dale Wolbrink of Mystic Aquarium.

In order to determine how the whale died a team from the sea research facility will be working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) to perform a necropsy of the carcass.

Onlookers at the Beavertail Beach have continued to gawk and puzzle over the whale since it was discovered Friday. A preliminary response team checked the whale that day, including two veterinarians. The specimen was male, and a confirmed 975 cm (nearly 32 feet) long.

By Monday, though, Wolbrink said the team was still trying to figure out its full plan. Scientists intend to tow the carcass to a different beach for the necropsy process, as well as to take samples to determine the whale’s life history and cause of death.

Since January of 2016, when NOAA declared an “unusual mortality event” for humpbacks in the Atlantic, some 44 deceased humpback whales have washed ashore.

Photo: T.J. Del Santo | WPRI 12