WELLFLEET— A juvenile humpback whale that was stranded on Saturday, Feb. 8, inside the sandbar known as “the gut” by the Herring River was found dead on Monday afternoon.
The humpback was 25 feet long, about half the size of a full-grown animal, and a health assessment conducted by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) stranding network on Saturday found it to be “severely emaciated,” said Nicole Hunter of IFAW.
Because the stranding team arrived close to sunset on Saturday they could not do a full evaluation on the whale and left the scene as darkness fell, returning the following morning, she said.
The rescue team, a mix of professionals and volunteers who help beached marine mammals get back into the water, returned early Sunday, but the whale was gone. Photos taken later that same day by a citizen showed the animal bumping up against the Herring River dike, she said.
On Monday afternoon at low tide the body of the dead whale was spotted. It had sunk, Hunter said. IFAW’s stranding team put an anchor on it to keep it still and headed there again Tuesday, she said.
This is the first whale stranding of the year, Hunter said. It’s early for humpbacks to come to the waters around Cape Cod. They typically arrive in the early spring and stay for the summer. —K.C. Myers