Dead whale found in Chilmark

Officials uncertain whether they’ll research how whale died.

NOAA has informally identified the whale as Minke whale. — Claire Ganz


What is believed to be a minke whale was found dead on a Chilmark shore Monday. 

The decomposing marine mammal was discovered on private land near Cape Higgon by owners of the property.

Holly Ganz, who’s visiting the Island from California, was the first to come across the carcass on her family’s land.

Her sister, year-round resident Claire Ganz told The Times she immediately notified the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Marine Mammal Stranding Network, along with the relevant local authorities, after coming across the whale. 

Based on photos provided by Ganz, NOAA reps say they believe it to be a minke whale.

The common minke whale has an average lifespan of 50 years, and is the smallest baleen whale in North America. They can reach lengths of up to 35 feet, and weigh up to 10 tons. 

Although minke whales are not an endangered species, they are at risk for boat strikes and fishing gear entanglement. 

Changes in ocean temperatures are said to have an effect on their navigation and reading “environmental cues,” NOAA says. 

Similarly, minke whales are particularly susceptible to noises caused by humans, which, because minkes use low-frequency sounds, impact their ability to communicate with one another. 

Ganz said although she’s been in contact with NOAA reps, it’s unclear whether they plan on sending anyone in person to the scene for formal identification. 

NOAA’s Marine Mammal Stranding coordinator, Ainsley Smith, told The Times that based on the state of decomposition, it’s unlikely that the organization will conduct an internal examination to determine the cause of death. 

Smith was unable to confirm whether the network will be deploying someone to the area. She said that if they do respond to the Chilmark location, they will perform general data collection, and make note of any “obvious wounds.” 

Additionally, Smith said, NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Mammal Stranding Response Program is not responsible for disposal of deceased marine life. 

Ganz said this is the first time a whale was found beached on her property. 

Earlier in the season, Ganz had to personally dispose of two dead dolphins on her property, after notified authorities failed to show up for assessment of the carcasses.

The cause of death of the dolphins is unknown. 

At this time, Ganz is unsure whether she’ll be tasked with the disposal of the minke. She’s since carefully measured the mammal and taken additional photographs that may be of use in the future. 

Although minke whales are common this time of year, finding one beached is a rare occurrence, Chilmark Animal Control Officer Chris Murphy told The Times. 

Based on public reporting data, NOAA says there have been around 13 dead whales found on Martha’s Vineyard beaches in the past decade. The last reported was also a minke whale, in October 2021. 

Four dead Atlantic right whales were discovered on the Island in 2017 alone. Other whales found deceased since 2012 include at least four humpback whales, two fin whales, and an unidentified baleen. 


  1. How come I’m not finding my daily copy of the MV Times minute in my email anymore?

    • Exactly, Just like those “crazies” protested the concentration camps when they found out the truth of what was happening. Nothing to see here folks, just move along.

  2. Hm Mr Engelman. Aren’t these your words from a Times article “ I realize that it is not about who is right or wrong, it is about how we treat each other”? Perhaps you could have used a more gracious word than “crazies”. I assume you’re not denying that many whales have actually washed up dead as a result of the vibrations the buried lines create in the ocean?

    • Please provide a link that shows how these “vibrations” from underwater cables have an effect on whales.

    • Ms Jean. I think the wind farms are a dumb idea and wont save money to the consumer but I also doubt that they are killing whales.

    • Nobody smiles at the site of a dead whale, but substantiate this please. If there’s credible evidence of such, I will appreciate having learned something. If not, than your comment doesn’t add to the discussion. Coal/oil/gas/natural gas/nuclear – all have environmental downsides. Other than conservation efforts, what’s the least of the evils ?

  3. Do you mean the right wing Koch brothers? They were the money behind Save Our Sound that tried to stop the wind farms.

    • Yes, and after they got what they wanted, they stopped funding Save our Sound. Now, Save Our Sound advocates for wind farms south of Martha’s Vineyard and has several wind developers listed as supporters. Follow the money!
      From the Save our Sound Website ” Alternative Sites: The Alliance participated in the establishment of rules and regulations governing offshore wind energy development. When Cape Wind was first proposed in 2001, there was no leasing authority, federal planning or competitive bidding for wind sites in federal waters. In 2005, the Energy Policy Act established federal leasing and called for regulations to govern renewable energy, which were completed in 2009. The Alliance promoted marine spatial planning and the creation of development zones to ensure appropriate development as well as exclusion zones to protect the marine environment. In 2010, the federal government’s “Smart from the Start” initiative led to the identification of specific areas to minimize conflicts, offshore lease sales and the progress of projects like Vineyard Wind in sites less conflicted than Nantucket Sound.”

  4. They are not Right Wing, they are Capitalists.
    They have little interest in the culture wars, they don’t feel that they have been cheated.

    • Albert– when you use the pronoun “they” at the start of your comment, it seems that you are referring to the Koch brothers.
      Please clarify.
      But if so, I truly have my jaw on my keyboard.
      I know that you are sometimes sarcastic
      But just in case you are not, the Koch brothers basically created the “tea party” by funding thousands of rallies and right wing events and causes.
      The book “dark money” explains the mostly covert tactics used by them and others to create a right wing movement that swept the country in the late 2000’s in 464 pages.
      They make George Soros look like a middle of the road guy who donates a few bucks to
      a few charitable cause.
      You know, Albert , words matter. Some people here have no idea what we are talking about.
      Please don’t feed bovine fertilizer into the conversation.

      • I am clearly referring to the Koch brothers.
        They have no interest abortion, same sex sex or drag queens.
        They are not Conservatives.

  5. I’d rather be the kind of crazy who protests the likely reason why whales are dying than the kind of idiotic and violent crazy it takes to protest against the democratic process of the transition of power of our country’s presidency. There actually are plenty of crazies voting for a lying, sexually assaulting, cheat for President. Talk about crazies…

  6. Jean– Regardless of andy’s choice of words in which he is implying that people who are against the development of offshore wind are crazy, there are some pretty crazy theories out there.
    But i will actually deny that any whales have been killed by vibrating lines buried under the seafloor. Mostly because there are no buried lines that are actually transmitting electricity from wind farms with the possible exception of Block Island. According to some opponents of offshore wind, block island has been shut down for years. So if you believe that there are no vibrating lines from offshore wind farms.
    The only other operational offshore wind farm in the United States is off the coast of Virginia.
    But– there are at least 4 and perhaps 5 buried lines that supply Martha’s Vineyard with electricity. I have not been able to find anything that indicates they are creating any vibrations at all, let alone ones that are strong enough to kill whales.
    You have mentioned these vibrations before. I have asked that you provide some information about that, as I cannot find anything about whale killing vibrations from buried lines. Perhaps you did not see my request.
    So I will ask again. Please provide us with some verifiable information about this concerning phenomenon. If vibrating lines are killing whales, the Vineyard has to transition to providing 100% of our own electricity as soon as possible so we can stop this senseless slaughter of these magnificent animals.

    • the cables themselves do not kill whales, but they may contribute to some deaths. the vibrations and noise interfere with their ability to use echolocation or chatter with each other, and that throws off their sense of direction, and possibly depth perception. the ocean has become a very noisy and busy place! whales and sharks are taking huge hits. as usual, we are playing with fire.

  7. Massachusetts Offshore Wind Boondoggle Not Cost Effective

    Massachusetts, in 2009 set a goal of developing 2,000 Megawatts of land-based wind power capacity by 2020.

    In order to achieve the 2020 renewable energy agenda the state politicians called for a real all-out war on fossil fuels.

    Residents statewide living near the megawatt wind turbines had complained from the beginning about noise and the flicker of light and shadow when the sun is behind the turbine.

    Falmouth is ground zero for poorly placed commercial megawatt wind turbines in the United States. The turbines deemed a nuisance by the courts were removed in 2022. Many other towns have curtailed the use of their turbines at night because of noise.

    Massachusetts fourteen years after setting ambitious goals has less than 120 megawatts of wind power. This equates to less than one percent of in-state electric production. The state turned the page on land-based wind turbines and looked towards offshore wind.

    Massachusetts in 2016 signed into law an Act Relative to Energy Diversity which required issuing cost-effective bids for offshore wind up to 1600 megawatts by June of 2027. Several wind companies bid on the contracts and Massachusetts electricity distribution companies accepted the cost-saving contracts.

    Several offshore wind companies want to back out of their contracts as of 2023.

    Interest rates on projects have risen, and purchase prices have increased by double digits.

    Maintenance and insurance questions remain on placing larger than 8-megawatt wind turbines in the ocean.

    Multiple communities along the East Coast are against having 800-megawatt underground cables placed through residential neighborhoods. The Pilgrim nuclear plant on Cape Cod produced 680 megawatts and those cables did not go through residential locations.

    Since 2016 when wind turbine construction started in Rhode Island whale deaths have increased near construction sites along the East Coast.

    Industrial wind now looks to be an expensive boondoggle and bunco scheme of enormous consequence. Rebidding offshore contracts is bad for ratepayers and ocean life.

    The people who value intellectual honesty should not quietly be fleeced by such mendacity, even from their government officials.

  8. Claire!
    It’s Heather! I left you a message on FB. I my be able to help you with this situation. It needs to be towed out to sea (which would be ideal since scavengers will still eat it, and then it will turn to carbon on the sea floor) or buried in the landfill. due to the smell, and the fact that it is now FILLED with bacteria that is extremely lethal, i don’t recommend you go near it. I have some contacts on the Cape that could help, and where is NOAA?? I mean, you didn’t kill the whale and 2 random dolphins and leave them there! I don’t understand why you are now responsible for the removal/burial because you had the misfortune of living right there. It won’t be cheap to do, as it will most likely start to break into pieces and..yeah. bad. I think NOAA should be responsible as they are state-funded and have the gear to do this, but they don’t seem very interested in..well, their JOB i guess. I have a list of numbers, and we can play “pass the buck” until we find the last one standing, or guilt and shame might work too.. 🙂 So don’t mess around with it anymore! You will be the next one being air-lifted to Boston, and it still would be touch and go. It should go back into the sea. i left you all my info on FB, and we will get this taken care of, or.. i think people know me well enough to figure out it won’t be a happy ending. there have been scores if whales beached on just about every beach on the island. The town and volunteers usually accept responsibility, because we live on an ISLAND, like i just said! ISLANDS=SURROUNDED BY WATER. These whales (and dolphins and all sea animals) deserve to go home. Into the ocean where they truly WILL be recycled. A few more days and that smell will carry to Edgartown. The longer it sits on that sand, the more it decomposes..however, left there, it would take DECADES for it to fully turn to bones. And you would be wearing a gas mask for the next 20 years at your house! Let’s make some noise and see if we can get this taken care of. Ignore the ignorant comments here..some people do not understand how important these animals are, how they have language, they raise their children and stay together for life, they play and breach and are beautiful. I am the Shark Chick from but i love all our finned friends. Why do they crash into boats? Because some whales use echolocation, and some of them, like the right whale, speak to each other and must rely on their eyes and ears while swimming, a lot of the time with their calves. Cargo ships, and even the ferry, disrupt their whole sense of direction because they are SO LOUD UNDERWATER!! there is so much noise coming from all different water vessels, other animals, each other it’s a wonder there are ANY right whales left. but don’t worry! there are a whole 350 north atlantic right whales left! plenty! there are only 70 females of breeding age, but they only have one pup every couple of years..and many of those die. Mostly from..guess! Human intervention. We are a horrible species! Just read this..and the SHARKS are coming!! a LOT of them! i will be around to help answer questions and am planning a snorkelfest on Chappy later this summer with the sandbar sharks! so get your fins and flippers ready. they are a favorite of divers and snorkelers because of their tolerant attitude. i might get the Discovery channel here never know! Claire, call me!! Let the haters hate. I can’t help but love. It’s not enough, though. Well, remember!! every second breath you take is courtesy of the ocean. We get 50% of OUR oxygen from the ocean and its inhabitants. Because we have trashed our atmosphere, we are now reliant on whales and especially sharks..the beautiful apex predator that is the white shark rules the ocean and if they die, we ALL die. so love our underwater allies! we need them! sorry this was so long! Azi~x.

  9. oh and PS: this is a very uncool article to start posting about politics and confuse everyone with the actual issue here! to me, anyway..this is a biohazard, a health concern..but remember also, that 3 of our most precious marine mammals have died. stop it already, it’s a BORE. i answered the question about whales and underwater noise and vibration above. start thinking about helping Claire get these beautiful fin friends back out to sea and to rest!

  10. Frank– in February of 2023 I was being charged 36 cents per KWH from eversource.
    In April, I was charged 41 cents per KWH. That’s about a 15 % increase.

    The delivery charges from eversource essentially stayed the same.
    But the “generation service charge” went from 19.4 cents per KWH to 25.1 cents per KWH.
    That’s about a 30 % increase.

    That increase had nothing to do with future wind farm projects.
    You can speculate about bunco schemes that may or may not occur in the future, but we are all being “fleeced” by the current energy companies.
    It is disingenuous for you to speculate that wind power will increase in cost while ignoring
    the fact that the cost of generating electricity (mostly from natural gas) in new England just increased by 30% .

    I’m just being “intellectually honest” here.

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