CHARLESTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Scientists and marine biologists returned to East Beach Wednesday to perform a necropsy on a whale carcass that washed ashore last weekend.
The whale was first discovered Sunday along the rocks of the Charlestown beach.
Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program took the lead on the necropsy — with help from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Boston.
Experts believe the whale was a male juvenile, possibly in its teens. The whale is also between 22 and 25 feet long.
“As much as we hate to see these kinds of things, they’re also an opportunity to teach and to learn,” Spokesperson for Mystic Aquarium Dale Wolbrink said.
The DEM said performing the necropsy was challenging because of where the carcass was located.
“When the researchers got there Wednesday morning, there was a lot of water around the whale. So it took a few hours to move the whale higher up,” DEM Spokesperson Mike Healey said. “Researchers had to trek in roughly three miles from the East Beach entrance, and whales have a lot of oil, so combine that with sharp knives and saws. It’s physical and possibly dangerous work.”
Researchers collected tissue samples from the whale’s blubber, muscles and organs which will be sent to pathologists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
It could be several weeks or months before the results are finalized.
The DEM will bury the whale Wednesday evening in a hole that’s at least 10 feet deep on East Beach.