Public asked to stay away from washed-up whale

Gloucester Daily Times, Mass.
·2 min read

Apr. 17—Gloucester and NOAA officials are asking members of the public to stay away from a minke whale carcass that washed up in Folly Cove on Friday.

"Due to the slippery rocks, high surf and incoming tide, we ask that people please do not attempt to approach the whale carcass at Folly Cove," cautioned a post Saturday on the Gloucester Shellfish Constable's Facebook page. "The conditions in this area are hazardous and it is extremely dangerous to attempt to take selfies with the dead whale."

"It's still a marine mammal and still protected," said Shellfish Constable Peter Seminara on Saturday. "It seemed pretty decomposed but people shouldn't be trying to take souvenir."

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials also requested that members of the public stay away from the carcass until officials finish their investigation.

NOAA is working with the Seacoast Science Center Marine Mammal Rescue, based in Rye, New Hampshire, and the Gloucester shellfish constable to document the animal. Seminara said his deputy, Rebecca Visnick, and center personnel took some measurements Saturday morning but the findings had not been released Saturday afternoon.

"We will continue to examine it closer as the weather and situation becomes safer this weekend," NOAA said on its NOAA Fisheries New England/Mid-Atlantic Facebook page.

The medium-sized, dead minke whale came ashore in Folly Cove on Friday where divers routinely enter the water in the cove, possibly a byproduct of storm winds blowing hard all day out of the north-northeast.

"It appears that it's been dead for quite some time and came in on the storm, which happens sometimes," Harbormaster T.J. Ciarametaro said Friday.

Friday's storm created heavy surf and the large waves made it difficult for responders to closely approach the carcass

Seminara said there are no plans currently to move the carcass which he said is located right above the high tide line.

Ciarametaro said there was no sign of gear entanglement and that responders had not yet been able to determine the whale's age.

Minke whales can grow to about 35 feet long and weigh up to 20,000 pounds, according to NOAA, are members of the baleen or "great" whale family, and are considered a stable population.

Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT