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Whale That Washed Up at Coney Island Likely Killed by Boat, Officials Say

By Katie Honan | June 9, 2015 8:16am
 The female adult Minke whale washed up on Coney Island on June 8.
The female adult Minke whale washed up on Coney Island on June 8.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

BROOKLYN — A whale that washed up dead on Coney Island Monday was likely killed during a collision with a boat before it ended up on the beach.

The adult female Minke whale was found at noon on the sand at the end of Ocean Parkway, officials said.

The 20-foot mammal was already dead by the time it washed up, according to Kim Durham, the program director for the Riverhead Foundation who performed a necropsy on the mammal late Monday.

After an hours-long examination, Durham and her team determined the adult whale was killed by a boat within the last two days, she said.

It's unclear its exact age. Marine biologists can tell how old a whale is by measuring its ear bones, but the top portion of the whale's skull was missing, likely ripped off by a boat's propeller, according to Durham.

 A dead Minke whale washed up on the shore of Coney Island Monday afternoon.
Dead Whale Washes Up in Coney Island, Officials Say
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The whale had bruising and cuts consistent with propellers from a boat striking it.

The whale also had fish bones in her stomach, which means she was likely feasting on chum when she was hit.

Durham took skin, tissue and muscle samples as well as the mammal's reproductive organs and stomach to bring back to the Riverhead Foundation's lab in Suffolk County for further tests by a pathologist, she said.

The rest of the whale was cut up and hauled away by three Parks Department trucks, which will dispose of it properly, officials said. 

Minke whales are not uncommon in the waters off New York City, but it's rare for one to wash up on Coney Island, Durham said. There have been whales that have washed up in Rockaway, including one on the bay side of Breezy Point in 2012. 

This is the third dead whale to beach along the coast of Long Island in the first six months of this year alone, which "seems like a lot," Durham said. By comparison, only three dead whales were reported in all of 2014, she said. 

Efforts to clean up the waters around New York City have allowed animals to venture closer to the shores of the five boroughs — which has resulted in more sightings of dolphins and whales. 

The great white shark that was caught a mile off of Rockaway Beach in June 2014 was also closer than in years past, also likely because it was hungry, officials said.

"These animals are here because the food is here," Durham said.