Pictured above: The minke whale found in Southold’s Goose Creek Thursday afternoon. |. AMSEAS photo

A minke whale that was found by a group of paddleboarders in Southold’s Goose Creek Thursday afternoon may have been suffering from brain inflammation and lesions possibly caused by infectious disease.

The 20-foot-long whale was sedated to relieve its suffering by a team from the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society that responded to a report of the stranding Thursday, along with the Southold Town Bay Constables and Police Department. The whale was found in shallow water far back in the creek, and while the tide was outgoing, the first responders found that the location “prevents safely moving or providing additional medical intervention,” according to AMSEAS.

The whale died overnight, and the Southold Highway Department, Police and Bay Constables assisted Friday in moving it to an offsite location for a necropsy by AMSEAS.

The AMSEAS team reported Sunday that the whale, which was a male, “was thin and had only a small amount of digested food in its stomach, suggesting it had not been eating recently. The animal’s brain showed signs of inflammation, and other lesions found were consistent with infectious disease that has been found in previous stranded minke whales in New York.”

NOAA Fisheries has declared an ongoing Unusual Mortality Event for minke whales in this region.

“Preliminary findings in several of the whales have shown evidence of human interactions or infectious diseases,” according to NOAA. “These findings are not consistent across all of the whales examined, so more research is needed.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and NOAA Fisheries New England/Mid-Atlantic also provided assistance with resources and the intervention plan.

” Response efforts to large whale species require a significant amount of resources and we couldn’t do this work without the support of local agencies and communities,” according to AMSEAS.

AMSEAS reminds the public that “dolphins, porpoises, and whales are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which makes touching, feeding, or otherwise harming these animals illegal. The best way to assist these animals, and keep them and yourself safe, is by calling trained responders and maintaining a 150-foot distance.”

In New York, report all stranded marine mammals and sea turtles to the NY Stranding Hotline at 631.369.9829. For all other states in the northeast, call NOAA’s marine mammal and sea turtle stranding hotline at 866.755.6622 to be directed to a trained responder.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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