Mastic Beach – Scientists and Environmentalists are trying to piece together what triggered a whale and a sea turtle to wash up at Smith Point County Park Thursday.
According to environmentalists, the mammal has been described as a rare and endangered 50-foot finback whale.
The fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), also called the finback whale, razorback, or common rorqual, is a marine mammal belonging to the suborder of baleen whales. It is the second largest animal after the blue whale, growing to 27.3 metres (89.5 ft) long and weighing nearly 74 tonnes (73 long tons; 82 short tons). The American naturalist Roy Chapman Andrews called the fin whale “the greyhound of the sea… for its beautiful, slender body is built like a racing yacht and the animal can surpass the speed of the fastest ocean steamship.”
Long and slender, the fin whale’s body is brownish-grey with a paler underside. At least two recognized subspecies exist: the North Atlantic and the Southern Hemisphere. It is found in all the major oceans, from polar to tropical waters. It is absent only from waters close to the ice pack at the poles and relatively small areas of water away from the open ocean. The highest population density occurs in temperate and cool waters. Its food consists of small schooling fish, squid, and crustaceans including copepods and krill.
Like all other large whales, the fin whale was heavily hunted during the twentieth century and is an endangered species. Over 725,000 fin whales were reported taken from the Southern Hemisphere between 1905 and 1976, as of 1997 survived by only 38,000.
The International Whaling Commission (IWC) issued a moratorium on commercial hunting of this whale, although Iceland and Japan have resumed hunting. The species is also hunted by Greenlanders under the IWC’s Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling provisions. Global population estimates range from less than 100,000 to roughly 119,000.