dead whale

A dead 20-foot-long humpback whale was discovered on the beach at Assateague Island National Seashore Monday morning.

Twenty-foot-long carcass will be moved into dunes to dry out before burial

(Jan. 20, 2023) A dead 20-foot-long humpback whale was discovered on the beach at Assateague Island National Seashore Monday morning and now marine pathologists will try to find out why.

Apparently, the humpback washed up in the Maryland oversand vehicle area, which was closed at the 21.8 KM mark to allow research and removal crews to work safely.

The whale’s discovery lead the Park Service staff to notify the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Stranding Response Program. DNR works with NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) and other agencies such as the National Aquarium and Smithsonian Institution in instances like this one.

Assateague Island National Seashore is responsible for carcass retrieval and ultimately, disposal.

A necropsy was planned for Tuesday by DNR and National Aquarium personnel. At this time there are no obvious signs to the cause of death, a statement from the Park Service said.

After the necropsy is completed, the whale carcass will be moved into the dunes and allowed to dry out prior to its eventual burial.

Visitors who come across the whale should keep a distance and keep any dogs leashed.

The carcass will smell for a while, but previous experience shows that the smell will not be a problem more than 50 yards or so from the actual location.

All marine mammals, alive or dead, are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and collection of any parts is prohibited.

Anyone who sees a marine mammal or sea turtle that has washed ashore could contact the local stranding network.

The Maryland Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Response Program can be contacted at 1-800-628-9944 and the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Stranding Response Program can be reached at 757-385-7575.

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