Necropsy begins on humpback whale stranded on NC beach

State - Regional
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COROLLA, N.C. (WAVY) — A necropsy is being performed on a humpback whale that was found stranded on a beach in the Outer Banks over the weekend.

Billy Malbon stumbled upon the 33 ft. juvenile whale in Corolla around mile post 5 on Sunday, and sent in footage to 10 On Your Side.

Karen Clark with the Outer Banks Mammal Marine Stranding Network said work is underway to perform a necropsy on the large humpback, to determine how the whale died. Crews will also work to remove the whale from the beach.

There have been no signs of scavenging or trauma on the whale, Clark said.

This whale is the second to wash up on the Outer Banks this week. Last Monday, another juvenile male was spotted floating off Jeanette’s pier, eventually washing up near the Oregon inlet. The first whale was so badly scavenged a necropsy wasn’t possible. 

“In our region we typically get 2 or 3 in a year and you know we’re in February and we’ve had two already here in North Carolina so the numbers are a little bit higher than we normally get,” explained Karen Clark with the Outer Banks Marine Mammal Network. 

While the team worked, small crowds came and went, attempting to catch a glimpse of the unusual sight.

“Everybody’s curious, it’s quite the operation,” said Bob Sprege, who’s visiting from Pennsylvania. “It’s a little gruesome actually.”

“It’s just kind of awesome to see the enormity of it,” said Amy Levengood, another onlooker. 

Clark says her team is used to curious onlookers during tasks like this. 

“Especially if the suns out and it’s a beautiful day” said Clark. “I think the word got out about this animal, so people want to come. Education is a big part of what we like to do while we’re out here.”

Getting the whale off the beach called for heavy machinery and a small team of experts. Crews first divided the body into smaller pieces, then buried it deep in the sand.

It’s also a pretty smelly ordeal. 

“Dead animal, it’s really strong,” said Lydia Surprenant, an Outer Banks local who stopped by to see the whale. “I was not expecting it to be that strong.”

There’s no official word on what caused this whales death, but experts say they hope the necropsy will reveal some answers. 

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