NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — Those looking to celebrate their Labor Day Weekend at one Rhode Island beach received quite the surprise on Sunday.
The whale that washed ashore at Scarborough State Beach around 11 a.m. during high tide was removed Monday morning.
The whale does not appear to have any visible signs of trauma, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been notified and will investigate what may have caused the whale’s death.
Due to the holiday weekend, NOAA could not get anyone to the beach so the R.I. Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will bury the whale. A necropsy is expected to be performed on the whale.
DEM spokesperson Mike Healey said the whale is described as a 15 foot juvenile Northern or Common Minke whale — the smallest baleen whale in North American waters and can reach lengths of up to about 35 feet and weigh up to 20,000 lbs.
Beachgoers say they saw the whale came in with the tide and at first, it looked like it may have been alive and in need of rescuing. Once it reached the shore, they said it was clear the whale was dead.
“When the tide was high it was kind of rolling and it was kind of moving around in the waves so it looked like it was kind of motioning that it was alive still,” one witness said. “So that was when we first saw it so we were like, oh wait is it struggling like it’s beached and people are trying to save it.”
This is the second time a whale has turned up on a Rhode Island shoreline in less than nine months.
In December 2019, a 20-foot humpback whale washed ashore at East Beach in Charlestown.