On March 31, locals discovered a 28-foot humpback whale washed ashore at Jacob Riis Park in Queens, N.Y.
The Atlantic Marine Conservation Society (AMSEAS) monitored the stranded mammal from afar, complying with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s social distancing guidelines.
The team eventually confirmed the whale was deceased and buried the whale on April 2. This is the first stranded whale to be reported to the AMSEAS response team so far in 2020.
“Humpback whale populations have increased in recent years to a point where it is no longer listed as an endangered species,” AMSEAS wrote in a statement. “As the weather becomes warmer and New York enters the season where these animals are in this area, the public is reminded to keep an eye out for these animals while on the water and walking the beaches.”
Whale sightings in New York City have increased within the last few years due to anti-pollution efforts.
“We’re likely seeing them here more because they’re protected and more are hanging in the area,” AMSEAS chief scientist Rob DiGiovanni told the Queens Daily Eagle, a local Queens news outlet. “They’ve always been going through here, it’s just a matter of them stopping. It’s really a byproduct of more animals here and more food close to the shore.”
There has been an increase in large whale deaths in the northwest Atlantic region over the last three years, reports the Queens Daily Eagle. AMSEAS recorded 44 deaths since 2017, while a decade ago there was one recorded death per year.
AMSEAS is still determining whether this spike is due to a general population increase or if the positive environmental changes have attracted more animals to the area.
If you enjoyed this story, check out this drone footage of a whale swimming directly towards surfers.
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