A rare deep-water whale sighting happened on a Massachusetts beach on Friday. Biologists with the New England Aquarium are trying to narrow down what may have caused a 17-foot-long carcass of this type of whale to wash ashore.
According to Fox News, the female whale carcass weighed nearly a ton and was discovered on the Jones Beach in Plymouth. Biologists at the acquarium -- and staff from the International Fund for Animal Welfare -- are performing a necrospy at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Apparently, they think it's possible the rare whale is a Sowerby's Beaked Whale.
Several species of Beaked Whales are reportedly found about 200 miles into the North Atlantic offshore.
The whales are described as having long, slender snouts and feed on small fish in cold, deep water. They've been known to be netted by commercial fisherman by accident.
Regina Asmutis-Silvia leads a non-profit organization called the Whale and Dolphin Conservation and says it's been nearly 10 years since they've handled a Beaked Whale like this one. The last time the organization did, it was in 2006. The executive director reveals that this type of Beaked Whales is so rare, its numbers have not been accurately counted.
A spokesman for the acquarium, Tony Casse, explains that the deep-water whale's carcass was "reasonably fresh and in good condition." He mentioned that the whale didn't show any obvious signs of trauma from getting struck by a vessel or getting entangled in fishing gear. There wasn't any real evidence of injuries.
Biologists are investigating the Sowerby's Beaked Whale's carcass to determine why the whale was washed ashore on a Massachusetts beach. It was discovered on some rocks at the beach.
Also noted in the report, is that the International Fund for Animal Welfare "hold the view that the whale belongs to the Sowerby's Beaked Whale species. It was in 2006 that they got to handle this specific species of whale. This type of whales is also prone to accidents caused by nets spread by commercial fishermen, and other accidents due to the type of habitat they live in."
The rare whale that washed ashore is giving scientists a chance to learn more about the evasive species. It's a sad thing to see a large sea creature turn up dead for no good reason, but it's giving biologists a real opportunity to explore more about the whale.
According to the report, the deep-water whale is said to be 7 or 8-years-old.
[Photo Credit: New England Aquarium via AP/Times Gazette]