NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — A dead Humpback whale that washed ashore in Little Compton over the weekend will likely remain there until the spring, according to the R.I. Department of Environmental Management (DEM).
The beached whale was discovered Saturday on Church Cove. DEM spokesperson Mike Healey tells 12 News the whale carcass washed ashore in a remote location, “likely too remote for us to undertake an effort to bury it at this rocky beach … or move it and bury it at another (sandier) beach.”
“It’s not the ideal scenario, but given the extreme weather over the next couple of days and the huge logistical effort that would be involved in trying to move the carcass, we’re inclined to leave it where it is and let nature take its course,” Healey explained. “By late spring, it’ll likely be just bones.”
Healey said on Wednesday, weather permitting and with the permission of the adjacent landowners, the DEM will assist a staff of marine biologists from Mystic Aquarium in conducting a necropsy to determine how the whale died.
“There are no signs of entanglements from fishing lines or nets, no obvious scars, and no signs of a traumatic injury such as having been struck by a boat propeller,” Healey said. “These factors make the necropsy important. Every necropsy provides a data point that helps scientists understand whales, their environment, and the ocean a little better.”
“Whales are magnificent and in the truest sense of the word, awesome and humbling,” he continued. “It’s really sad when one dies, that’s why we view a stranding like this, which has left an intact whale on our shores, as a gift to science.”