Body of humpback whale spotted off Daytona Beach

Surfers head for their favorite surfing spot on a misty Thursday morning, Jan. 18, 2007, near the spot where a humpback whale washed ashore Wednesday night in Daytona Beach Shores Fla.

Jim Tiller/Daytona Beach News-Journal
Published: Thursday, January 18, 2007 at 3:18 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 18, 2007 at 3:18 p.m.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - The carcass of a nearly 30 foot humpback whale seen drifting near the Sunglow Pier was to be removed by researchers Thursday.

Employees from the Hubbs-Sea World Research Center will perform tests to determine what killed the mammal, which was first spotted Wednesday evening. Beach patrol were on the scene keeping curious onlookers away from the body.

"People don't realize even though it's dead and can't move, it can still be dangerous," said Jennifer Winters, with Volusia County Environmental Management's Marine Mammal Stranding Team.

Winters speculated that the endangered animal either got sick or was attacked by another animal.

This was the latest in a string of humpback whales to die in the Atlantic Ocean over the past 12 months. Most recently, the body of a female, 4,000-pound calf was discovered Saturday in Cocoa Beach.

Including Wednesday's stranding, 29 deaths have been recorded in the last 12 months along the entire eastern Atlantic coast, compared with an average 10 to 15 deaths annually.

Mendy Garron, the northeast stranding coordinator for NOAA Fisheries, said it is a significant number for a population of 8,000 to 10,000 whales. Ideally, to have a successful reproduction rate, she said there should be no more than three deaths a year.

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