On the morning after Christmas, a whale washed ashore at Beach 216th Street & Palmer Drive in Breezy Point, Queens. As onlookers, firefighters and concerned locals gathered to try to help, it was established that the 60-foot finback whale was very emaciated and sick. Yesterday, biologists announced the whale had died sometime the night before. There were some concerns about how to dispose of the enormous body, but it's now been decided that the whale will be buried on the beach where it washed ashore.
"This makes the most logistical sense," National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service spokeswoman, Allison McHale, told DNAInfo. "We hope to have the equipment needed to move the whale tomorrow."
But first, researchers have to perform an open-air necropsy to determine why it died—moving the whale to the dunes about 100 yards away (and uphill, no less) will prove quite challenging: “That’s going to be interesting to try and figure that out,” Dave Avrin, chief of resources management for Gateway National Recreation Area (the parkland where the whale came ashore), told the Times. The Riverhead Foundation is trying to get an extra-large backhoe with treads to withstand the sand: “If you come in here with equipment with rubber tires, this is a 30-ton animal, you’re going to spin,” said Kimberly Durham, director of rescue programs for the foundation.
Because of how it landed on the shore, no one is sure what gender or how old the whale is right now. It's possible it was an adult and lived out its full lifespan (finbacks live up to 90 years!). Riverhead Foundation executive director Rob DiGiovanni did confirm that there was little that could have been done to help the mammal: : “It did present itself as a severely emaciated animal,” DiGiovanni previously said. “I don’t think it was the case that it was stuck on the beach.It was sick and it was in the process of dying. It didn’t move far because it didn’t have any of the energy to do that.”
Louis Bassolino, 66, had been walking the beach looking for his boat (that was lost during Hurricane Sandy) when he spotted the whale around 8 a.m. Wednesday: "I saw just the top of it. It looked like a capsized upside-down boat. I thought maybe it's my boat," Bassolino told the Post. "Then I saw the tail jump up out of the water, and the spout of water. I realized it was a whale."