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Second Beaked Whale Washes Up Dead in Bridgehampton

A smaller, male True's beaked whale was found dead just one day after a female one washed up on a Southampton beach.

The beaked whale calf that was recovered from a Bridgehampton beach on Monday. Credit: Courtesy of the Riverhed Foundation
The beaked whale calf that was recovered from a Bridgehampton beach on Monday. Credit: Courtesy of the Riverhed Foundation
Just as biologists were preparing for a necropsy on the rare True's beaked whale that washed up in Southampton on Sunday, another of the same species was reported on a Bridgehampton beach on Monday.

Robert DiGiovanni, the director and senior biologist at the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, said many researchers go their whole careers and never even see a True's beaked whale. "It's uncommon we'd encounter them up here," he said, let alone two deceased ones twice in 24 hours.

True's beaked whales prefer deep warm waters of the North Atlantic Ocean as well as at least two other areas in the Southern Hemisphere, like the Indian Ocean, according to the NOAA Fisheries website.

Only two others have washed up on Long Island in the past 30 years, DiGiovanni reported. Those strandings were in 2007 and 2008.

The first whale, which washed up on the beach off Gin Lane, was a female, approximately 15 feet long and weighing about 1 ton. DiGiovanni believes she was an adult and underweight, but necropsy results will provide more information.

The second whale, which washed up on Scott Cameron Beach, is a male, weighing about 400 pounds and measuring 9 feet in length. "He looks to be underweight too," DiGiovanni said, adding that its age was hard to say.

Preliminary necropsy findings will be available in a few days, though pathology reports will take a month or longer.

"It's unfortunate they're dead, but we can definitely collect data that might help answer some questions," DiGiovanni said about the species. "There's not a lot known about beaked whales."

Both whales were found dead on the surf. There was a report earlier Sunday, just before 9 a.m., about a whale thrashing about in the water about a quarter-mile west of Flying Point Beach. DiGiovanni said it had been pushed back into the water. At about 11:30 a.m., the same caller reported the animal washed ashore dead .6 miles east of Gin Lane.

DiGiovanni cautioned against doing pushing live animals back into the water, noting that it's against the law, as well as being unsafe.

All sighting and strandings should be reported to the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation by calling 631-369-9829.

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