A deceased juvenile humpback whale washed up on a Hatteras Island beach on Friday, March 17, at about 2:00 p.m.
The whale measured approximately 29’ ft. long, and washed ashore a mile south of Ramp 38, in between the towns of Avon and Buxton.
At this point, the cause of death is not known, according to Dave Hallac, Superintendent of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. “There are times where there are entanglement issues, but there didn’t seem to be any obvious signs of entanglement, so it’s really hard to tell [the cause of death] right now,” he said. “It could also be a form of disease or [another factor], but we don’t know at this time.”
A necropsy (or autopsy) will be performed soon to see if an obvious cause of death can be been determined.
Whales washing ashore are not completely uncommon, and has been reported in the past throughout the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. “It happens about once a year, and sometimes more often,” said Hallac.
A 33’ ft. long juvenile male humpback whale washed ashore near ramp 55 on Hatteras Island a little over a year ago in late 2015, and in December 2016, a 29’ juvenile female humpback whale washed ashore off of Carova Beach in the northern Outer Banks.
More information about the cause of death for the south Avon whale may be available within the next few days, after the necropsy is performed.
UPDATE – 03.20.2017- 1:30 pm – As of Monday afternoon, the juvenile humpback whale had washed back into the ocean, so no necropsy is planned at this time.