Dead humpback whale discovered in Provincetown Harbor; necropsy shows death was from chronic entanglement


PROVINCETOWN – The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) received a report of a dead whale in Provincetown Harbor, opposite Long Point Lighthouse, and The Center for Coastal Studies was able to confirm the presence of a fresh dead humpback Monday. It is in a complicated area, below the high tide line, and is almost fully submerged at high tide. After identifying the best weather window, IFAW deployed a small team of six to perform a necropsy this morning.

• The whale is a sub-adult humpback, sex not yet determined, length of 905cm (or just under 30 feet).
• Findings are consistent with a chronic entanglement. The whale was emaciated, and the stomach was empty, other than fluid (meaning there was no food/prey or plastic).
• Tremendous thanks to the Provincetown Harbormaster for helping us get out to this complicated location and to the Center for Coastal Studies for their support.
• The Center for Coastal Studies is currently gathering info and working to identify the animal.
• We are sending samples from today’s necropsy out for further analysis.
• The carcass will remain on the beach to decompose naturally.
• Photos ©IFAW / Andrea Spence

Quote from Misty Niemeyer, stranding coordinator for IFAW’s Marine Mammal Rescue & Research team:

“It was certainly a cold and choppy morning to be out there, but we took a small team of six IFAW staff out at low tide (6am) to perform the necropsy – an animal autopsy. The team included our animal rescue veterinarian and staff biologists. It does appear the whale suffered from a chronic entanglement.”

“While we aim to thoroughly examine every whale case that washes up on shore, cases like this one are a strong reminder of how important this work is to determine how we as humans impact these animals.”

Lastly, we always love a mention to report a live or dead stranded whale, dolphin or seal at IFAW’s Stranding Hotline, (508) 743-9548 – we cover the region across Cape Cod and southeastern MA.
737 West Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
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