By Stephen J. Kotz
The decomposing carcass of a finback whale washed up on the ocean beach just east of Peter’s Pond Lane in Sagaponack overnight Friday. After a necropsy was completed by the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society on Saturday afternoon, the 53-foot whale was buried on the beach.
In a statement, Rachel Bosworth, a spokesman for the society, said there had been evidence of traumatic injuries to the animal and tissue samples had been sent to a pathologist in an effort to pinpoint the cause of death, a process that could take several weeks.
The appearance of the whale on Friday evening caused a stir. Matt Heckman, a Sagaponack resident, said he had been on the beach fishing when police arrived around 6 p.m. Friday. “They were going to call the Coast Guard,” he said, “because they thought it was a capsized boat.”
Mr. Heckman said he helped identify the whale, which he had learned about earlier in the day, when he saw a video fishermen had taken of great white sharks feeding on a dead several miles offshore. He said the whale was about 200 yards offshore when he first saw it at Gibson Beach, but that it drifted eastward and was beached by the incoming tide.
Biologists and volunteers with the conservation society arrived at the scene Saturday morning, and Southampton Town officials closed the beach to the public until the carcass was buried.