A whale approximately 18 feet long got stuck on a sand bar in Southold’s Goose Creek Thursday afternoon.
Southold Town police Chief Martin Flatley said police were notified around 3 p.m. to the whale, believed to be a Minke whale, that was visible from the end of Waterview Drive.
“It got caught up in shallow waters as the tide was going out,” the chief said.
Bay constables, Southold police, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and officials from the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society responded. As of around 4 p.m., the officials were working on a plan to free the whale because the tide was going out, the chief said. As night arrived, however, the responders sedated the whale and plan to check on it again tomorrow, the chief said.
The whale was still alive, but may be sick.
“(The whale) was splashing around trying to get out of the low spot,” Chief Flatley said.
He said they’re not sure if they can get the whale out.
Kim Durham of the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society in Hampton Bays was at the scene Thursday and said the whale is approximately 5,000 pounds. She said the challenge is to get the whale out of the wetland.
“This type has been stranded in East Hampton before,” Ms. Durham said. “But never in the bay. We administer drugs to help it.”
If the whale does not survive the night, the town’s highway department crew will attempt to remove it from the marsh and transport it to the town landfill for a necropsy, allowing the marine researchers can determine a cause of death.
The Riverhead-based New York Marine Rescue Center also responds to reports of stranded sea turtles, seals, small cetaceans (dolphins, whales and porpoises) throughout New York State. Residents are urged not to interfere with any of the animals that are stranded. A 24-hour hotline is available at (631) 369-9829.
All of those species are protected under The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) of 1972, and some are protected under the Endangered Species Act, the marine rescue center notes on its website.