Humpback whale washes up on South Beach


A backhoe pulled a dead humpback whale out of the surf Sunday so that New England Aquarium staff could perform a necropsy. Humpback whales are an endangered species and the discovery of one was an unusual event.

Volunteers from the Vineyard marine mammal stranding team and environmental police sergeant Matt Bass responded to the private beach Friday afternoon, when the 37-foot whale was discovered.

Mike Moore from the Woods Hole Oceanagraphic Institute and Connie Mirigo of the New England Aquarium led the team of volunteers that helped with the examination over the weekend.

The first backhoe provided by Kevin Peters excavation was not powerful enough to pull the whale so a second backhoe was brought in.

“I think the fact that the one backhoe could not pull the whale out of the surf also speaks for its size,” Island volunteer Leo Convery of Edgartown said.

There was no immediate evidence to indicate the cause of death.