Thursday, April 8, 2010

Grim Fate Awaits Whale Beached on Long Island

People watch the young whale struggle Tuesday in East Hampton, N.Y.

A baby humpback washed ashore in East Hampton on New York's Long Island this week, attracting onlookers who wondered why it beached itself. By this morning, however, marine experts delivered a sad diagnosis: The whale was already dying when it came ashore and cannot be saved.

Researchers shot two darts at the whale in an effort to sedate the animal but were unsuccessful. The Associated Press reports that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is trying to come up with a new plan to end the whale's pain.

People watch the young whale struggle Tuesday in East Hampton, N.Y.

"The actions of its body would indicate it's in really tough shape," Charles Bowman, president of the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, told the New York Post. "It's not a candidate to save. It's a very young animal. It couldn't survive on its own even if it was healthy. It's supposed to be with its mother."

Beach goers looked on in frustration as the 25-foot creature sputtered through its blowhole in the surf. Experts said they could hear the whale struggling to breathe. According to Bowman, the whale is an orphan and is likely dying of starvation without its mother's milk.

"It's pretty sad. It looks pretty uncomfortable," Francis Molignano, 31, of Southampton, told the AP.

Several people begged authorities to do everything in their power to end the baby whale's suffering.

"You have got to be kidding me," Hamptons blogger David Lion Rattiner wrote. "Euthanize this whale and end its suffering."

Alexa Wolf of East Hampton told CBS News: "I think there's a lot they can do that they're not doing right now."

But Bowman said it may be impossible to safely euthanize the whale because of its immense size.

"People believe you can just shoot it with a dart. But it's a whale," Bowman said. "It takes a lot of effort and special equipment and time. We would need to have people right on top of it."

The Discovery Channel's science blog explained that whales sometimes become stranded on Long Island beaches as they migrate up the East Coast in early spring in search of food.

Bowman said he is still considering ways to put the humpback out of its misery but is concerned that researchers could be hurt. "We need a plan so that we don't put any of our staff in danger, because if they walk up to the whale and put a needle in him, we don't know if the whale would have a spasm, thrash around and possibly break someones neck," he said.

Bowman said his crew will stay with the whale until it dies.

It is very sad about what is happening to this young whale.  And I appreciate the fact that so many concerned citizens are there to see if they can help.  This is a good lesson to learn though....We can all help animals in small and large ways.  We can join groups to help shed light on the suffering of animals, such as Mercy for Animals, or the ASPCA, we can give money to sanctuaries and rehabilitation centers that help animals back from near death and re-introduce them back to the wild when possible. 

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