East Hampton Juvenile Humpback Stranding, 2010

The stranding of a young humpback whale (1-2 years old) in East Hampton, NY was the event that inspired the creation of StrandedNoMore

The stranding of a young humpback whale (1-2 years old) in East Hampton, NY was the event that inspired the creation of StrandedNoMore. The denial of rescue, the torture and the slow death of a young whale revealed the extent of stranding field problems is both the USA and worldwide.

On April 6, 2010 a young humpback whale was found alive on a beach in East Hampton, NY. Immediately after stranding the experts and all parties involved began telling the public that the whale was sick and stood no chance. There was no attempt to rescue it even though initially the weather conditions were nearly pristine. Several locals including marina owners offered their help and the needed boats. But everything was declined as the “experts” decided that they were going to euthanize the whale. Ironically, it took several days to kill the whale that was “gravely ill.” First, several darts were shot at the whale. Then the whale was shot in a head several times, which did not kill him either and only the final administration of a drug finished him off.

NOAA performed very detailed necropsy and could not find anything wrong with the whale. They concluded that, “Based upon evaluation of all the facts such as the gross observations, histological evaluation of tissues, ancillary diagnostics, and environmental issues, no definitive cause of the stranding was determined.” They also noted that the whale had been feeding weeks or months prior to stranding and its body was in good condition.

What this means is that a perfectly healthy young animal was not only denied rescue but also killed for basically no reason. Humpback whales are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and also considered endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

This case also revealed the fact that even though “experts” and rescuers tell people that only sick animals strand, that is not necessarily so, as it has been shown in this case that luckily has been thoroughly investigated.

This was just one stranding among the many but it demonstrated the whole range of problems that are currently present, namely:

1. Euthanasia of stranded cetaceans

2. Denial of rescue and release

3. Assumption that stranded cetaceans are sick while that is not always the case

4. Refusal of public help

5. Lack of recognition that problems exist and the lack of desire to change anything

6. Inability to determine whether or not a whale is sick and has no chance while it is still alive

Since 2010, several important events have occurred. First, there was a very successful rescue of a stranded humpback of similar size in Mexico, which demonstrated that such a rescue is not as logistically impossible as the “experts” were saying. Second, there was a scientific confirmation based on genetic samples that a stranded humpback whale rescued in 2000 in Brazil after 12+ hours stranded on the beach, not only survived but also thrived and was seen 8 years later. This indicates that stranded alive cetaceans have a fighting chance. Altogether, the necropsy plus these examples indicate that everything that “experts” have been saying in regard to the East Hampton humpback whale was dubious, to say the least.

The East Hampton humpback whale died because the stranding field is not functioning properly. But we should not let his death be in vain as his story revealed everything what is wrong with current paradigm when it comes to stranded whales and dolphins both in the USA and worldwide.

If you would like to get a copy of the East Hampton humpback whale’s full case report you can request it from NOAA, Case # NY4236-10.