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Beached Whale in Breezy Point is Dead

By  Paul DeBenedetto and Theodore Parisienne | December 27, 2012 11:16am | Updated on December 27, 2012 1:41pm

BREEZY POINT — A beached whale that was discovered in Breezy Point Wednesday morning has died, officials confirmed Thursday.

The 60-foot whale was found on the sand near Beach 216th Street and Palmer Drive in Breezy Point shortly after 10:40 a.m. Wednesday, sending emergency responders into a race to save the animal.

Police and firefighters sprayed the whale with hoses until officials from the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation arrived on scene to find the emaciated animal's vital signs slowing.

The whale was monitored through the night and on Thursday, after drifting with the tide from its original location farther along the bay, the whale was confirmed dead by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service spokeswoman Allison McHale.

Biologists on scene Thursday said the whale likely died overnight.

The whale, an endangered finback or fin whale, is the second largest of all whale species, said Kim Durham, a representative of the New York State Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Program.

Finback whales are not uncommon in New York waters, according to Rob DiGiovanni, a director and senior biologist for the Riverhead Foundation. Since the mid-2000s, biologists have been seeing the whales far off New York shores.

Many whales become beached after becoming sick or suffering an injury from a boat or fishing net, according to McHale. The whale found on the beach was bloody and unusually small, leading biologists to believe it was likely sick a long time before being washed up.

"It was extremely emaciated," DiGiovanni said. "From this point forward what our intent is to try to do a full necropsy on this animal so we could try to ascertain why it might have died, why it was sick for a while."

Biologists on Thursday were developing the on-site necropsy plan, as well as a plan to safely remove the animal, DiGiovanni said.