One of nature’s wonders became a smelly spectacle Tuesday on the shore of Manomet, Mass., when the decomposing remains of a juvenile humpback whale washed ashore near Churchill’s Landing.
One of nature’s wonders became a smelly spectacle on the shore of Manomet Tuesday, when the decomposing remains of a juvenile humpback whale washed ashore near Churchill’s Landing.
Assistant Harbormaster Chad Hunter said the whale appears to be the remains of a young female humpback first spotted last weekend in the middle of Cape Cod Bay.
Prevailing northeast winds pushed the whale ashore south of Stage Point on Tuesday morning.
Tony LaCasse, spokesman for the New England Aquarium, said the whale is badly decomposed and appears to be the same humpback from which researchers took blubber samples in the Bay last weekend.
Cuts in the whale’s flesh are likely from the researchers tests, not from the propellers of a passing ship, he said.
LaCasse said biologists from the aquarium were sent to help the town dispose of the remains.
While it is legally the responsibility of the beach owner to remove the remains, the aquarium often assists in the removal while testing for the cause of death.
Humpback whales are federally protected as a threatened species in the waters off the United States, but have recently had their worldwide endangered species designation removed.
LaCasse said markings on the whale may enable researchers to identify it as one of the many that call Stellwagen Bank home.
Humpback whales are known as acrobats of the sea and especially delight whale-watching crowds because their distinctive white fin markings are visible as they travel under the surface.
LaCasse said this whale is about 20 feet long, less than half the size of an adult humpback.
Researchers from the aquarium expected to flense the remains (strip the blubber and skin) on the beach. The skeleton will then be given to the state’s endangered species expert, who will eventually donate the remains to a museum.