Dead humpback whale examined, buried on Long Island beach

A team of biologists, conservation officers, and equipment operators from a variety of federal, state, and nonprofit agencies stood in the cold beside the waters off long island Wednesday and whaled away at a 20-ton carcass with long knives, power tools, and an excavator.

Residents near this stretch of East Atlantic Beach near Rochester Avenue gathered on the sand to see the dead adolescent humpback whale that washed up the day before and instead encountered a blubbery heap of steaming marine mammal innards with some protruding fins.

"At least the cold numbs your nose but it's pretty bad," said Artie Raslich, the director of photography at the nonprofit Gotham Whale. "And they're getting down and dirty now."

He inspected the dead humpback Tuesday before the tide came up, delaying this necropsy until Wednesday. He determined that the animal was a foreigner to the NYC humpback whale catalog that Artie curates.

"It's a 31-foot whale, female, so I don't know what it was doing," he said.

This is the 14th large whale to wash ashore on Long Island this year. A dead dolphin appeared on a Montauk beach last weekend.

"There's two unusual mortality events going on—one for humpback whales and one for right whales," said Rob DiGiovanni, chief scientist at Atlantic Marine Conservation Society.

He led this necropsy to hopefully determine the tale of this individual's demise and work towards an answer as to whether the area's recent increase in beachings represents a fluke event or part of a greater trend.

"It could take months in order for us to get the results back from the pathologists," DiGiovanni said.

With the necropsy complete, the excavator tipped the giant whale carcass into its deep sandy grave, much to the displeasure of some who frequent this stretch of beach.

"It's been done here and in Rockaways and on the east end of the island and we've done it numerous times," DiGiovanni said.