NOAA: Preliminary findings suggest vessel strike is likely cause of beached whale's death
The necropsy on a 41-foot beached whale on Lido Beach was performed Tuesday.
The male humpback whale washed ashore Monday morning. It weighs about 29,000 pounds and is about 40 years old, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
It was named Luna and had been tracked by marine biologists. NOAA says it was last spotted in September in the Gulf of Maine.
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Luna is the eighth whale to wash ashore on the beaches of New York and New Jersey in the past two months, according to NOAA.
The necropsy was performed on the beach by the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society. The team of 20 biologists from various organizations cut up part of the whale to take tissue samples, blubber and organs for the death investigation.
The next step will be for scientists to determine from the samples they took, along with other parts of their investigation, as to how Luna died.
Andrea Gomez, a spokesperson with NOAA, told News 12 that it is important to determine the cause of death and to share the results with different organizations.
According to preliminary findings, a vessel strike is the likely cause of death, but scientists won't know the official cause for a while.
NOAA says the animal was found to be in good body condition and presented evidence that it had been actively eating, but the level of decomposition suggests the whale had been dead for several days before washing ashore.
"We can't say anything definite until we get back our tissue samples and that could take days, to weeks, to months and again unfortunately we still can't determine the cause of death," Gomez says.
NOAA says ship strikes and fishing gear entanglements are among the most common causes of death in humpback whales. Since 2016, 23 dead humpback whales have washed ashore in New Jersey.
Luna is now buried in a deep hole that was dug on Lido Beach.