Crowds with cameras filled a usually quiet stretch of Jones Beach -- their eyes and lenses were fixed on a dead humpback whale that washed ashore early Thursday.
"I've never seen a whale before and it is huge," said Cynthia Lee, who traveled from her Roosevelt home just to see the lifeless giant of the sea.
The whale is 30-feet long and weighs about 20 tons, according to marine researchers from the non-profit, Riverhead Foundation.
It is believed to be a juvenile male, about two to three-years-old. The cause of death is unclear.
"The whale probably died at sea within the last week," said lead researcher Rob DiGiovanni.
A necropsy will be done on the beach to determine the whale's cause of death. It washed ashore just down the beach from where a common dolphin came up one week ago. The dolphin was alive after being stranded in the surf but it died the next day.
"It is too early to draw any connections between the two incidents," said DiGiovanni, who stressed that whale and dolphin deaths in the waters off Long Island are not uncommon.
Still, onlookers had questions.
"What's going on here?" wondered Casey Roland, of Bethpage. She questioned whether the Gulf oil spill played a role in the whale's death.
For the moment, that seems unlikely, according to researchers.
Another humpback while also died on a beach in East Hampton back in April.
And a three-foot starfish was found dead at Jones Beach three weeks ago.
It was unclear how officials would remove the whale. This is how a dead whale was handled in Oregon in the 70s, lets hope Jones Beach officials don't do the same thing: