Beached Whale in Virginia Beach Adds to String of Unusual Deaths, Third This Week

Another beached whale was discovered on Virginia Beach’s shores, adding to the strange deaths that have occurred recently. Officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said this is the third incident this week.

Between the Lesner Bridge and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, officials have deployed Drone 10 to film the animal carcass found on the beach.

The identified North Atlantic right whale is a 20-year-old male, 43 feet long, and up to 70 tons in weight.

School on the Beach

About 30 students from the Environmental Studies program at Virginia Beach City Public Schools, which meets near the area at the Brock Environmental Center, used the beached right whale as a classroom on Monday. Some homeschooled students also showed up to participate in some practical learning.

One of the teachers, Chris Freeman, stated that they prefer to think of the incident as an extension of their classroom and that any chance to create active, hands-on learning is crucial for their students to comprehend what is happening in the world.

Homeschoolers Willa and Amber Petry-Johnson, along with their mother, who also serves as their teacher, were also on the beach.

Willa saw the whale get stranded on the sand. It died, she claimed, because it became stuck.

Student of environmental studies Lexi Bradshaw stated that they must obtain the necropsy report. It will be intriguing to see whether there is any connection between this case and the one before it, she continued.

The whale was not struck by a ship or tangled in fishing line, according to NOAA, which also noted that this is the third whale to become stranded in the area in the past week.

Tuesday is anticipated to see a necropsy. If the strandings are due to a common cause, NOAA has not stated it. How the whale carcass will be handled is still to be discussed.

On Sunday, February 12, WAVY learned of this most recent incident.

Between Chic’s Beach and Bay Lake Beach, the right whale got stuck. There is no obvious sign of a cause of death, and there are no signs of entanglement or ship strikes.

Critically Endangered North Atlantic Right Whale

Another student, Molly Jones, pointed out that there are only around 300 to 350 Right Whales left in the world, making it extremely sad when one washes up on the shore.

The IUCN Red List states that the North Atlantic right whale, which was added to the Endangered Species Act’s list in 1970, is now critically endangered. Since they moved slowly and floated after being killed, the right whale earned its name as the ideal species for hunters.

There are currently only about 70 breeding females.

Also Read: Stranded Dolphin Swims Out of Canal with Help of Human Chain Formed by 30 People in Florida 

Unusual Deaths Since 2017

According to NOAA, an Unusual Mortality Event has been affecting North Atlantic right whales since 2017. The species is vanishing more quickly than it can reproduce.

On behalf of NOAA Fisheries Services, the City of Virginia Beach issued an alert on January 30 informing the public that North Atlantic right whales, which are critically endangered, had been spotted near the resort town’s coast.

The Virginia Aquarium advises mariners to reduce their speed to 10 knots from now until April 30 because this is when the whales would be most likely seen area. The two main factors that cause serious injuries to right whales are vessel strikes and entanglement in fishing gear.

Along the East Coast, there have been numerous whale fatalities.

The Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team helped bring a dead humpback whale to shore, also in Virginia Beach, close to First Landing State Park just last week, on February 7. Heavy machinery was brought in to assist in moving the whale so that the response team’s members could conduct a necropsy to ascertain how the animal passed away. 

According to the latest update, NOAA found that the whale’s vertebral column was severely damaged by a catastrophic blunt force trauma. Numerous vertebral fractures as well as separations that would have led to death shortly after the injury were among the wounds consistent with a vessel strike.

The whale’s overall nutritional condition ranged from normal to thin, and there was no sign of recent entanglement or obvious external signs of the trauma, reports.

Related Article: Mysterious Whale Deaths Continue on the US East Coast, Experts Weigh In in Increasing Toll

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