Young Whale Stranded at East Hampton Beach Euthanized

Humpback struggled to survive for days, but was doomed from the start

Friday, Apr 9, 2010  |  Updated 8:06 AM EDT
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Stranded on Long Island Beach.

Stranded on Long Island Beach.

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A young whale stranded for three days at an eastern Long Island beach has been euthanized.

The president of the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation said Friday the whale died overnight.

Charles Bowman says a necropsy will be done in an effort to determine what made it sick.

The whale was found Tuesday in the surf in East Hampton. It was already weakened and unable to free itself. Marine scientists said it could not survive on its own.

An earlier attempt to euthanize the mammal was not successful.

As waves broke around the dying whale at the East Hampton beach Thursday night, team members kept vigil after using darts to administer drugs to the animal in an attempt to euthanize it.

"Hopefully we'll have success and the animal will be put out of its misery and suffering, and we can get on to finding out what happened," Charles Bowman, the president of the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, which works to rescue marine mammals and sea turtlesk, said at the time.

Bowman said he believed at least four darts had been shot into the whale's body after 9 p.m.

"It's a slow process, and we hope a gentle process," he said, adding that the team was monitoring the mammal and that its breathing had begun to lag and its movements slow about an hour to an hour-and-a-half after the drugs were given.

It was the second attempt to euthanize the mammal since the 20-to 25-foot-long whale, less than a year old, was found Tuesday lolling in the surf along the beach, already weakened and unable to free itself.

Marine scientists said that if freed, the animal would not be able to survive on its own.

The least noninvasive plan would be to let Nature take its course, but the animal could take days to die and would be suffering, said Mendy Garron, a regional marine mammal stranding coordinator with the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Scientists believe the whale was likely headed from breeding grounds in the Caribbean to feeding grounds off the coast of New England, a normal migratory route.

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