UPDATE: A second dead whale washes up in Virginia Beach
A critically endangered North Atlantic right whale was found dead along Chic's Beach in Virginia Beach Monday — just under a week after a dead humpback was found nearby.
Curious beachgoers with their dogs crowded around the whale near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel Monday and Tuesday to take pictures and pay their respects.
A Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response team completed a necropsy on the whale on Tuesday with support from NOAA staff. It will be buried near where it washed ashore. Its cause of death may not be known for weeks.
NOAA Office of Protected Resources head Kim Damon-Randall explained what the necropsy is for.
“So they’re looking for signs of trauma – you know, any kind of hemorrhaging or bruising," Randall said. “They’re looking for broken bones – things like that that would show evidence of a vessel strike.”
Marianne Nicholson was out walking with her two terriers. She said she’s disturbed by the two recent strandings.
“We don’t know why they’re washing up or what’s going on,” Nicholson said. “It’s really sad.”
The North Atlantic right whale species is one of the ocean's most imperiled. NOAA researchers say fewer than 350 are left.
Humpback whales, like the one that washed up near the Lesner Bridge last week, have bounced back from the brink of extinction and now number more than 80,000.
Ginger Ferris has lived in Chic's Beach for four decades and said she's never seen a whale washed up here.
"It's particularly concerning that this is the second one in such a short time," Ferris said. "I think we just need to realize that we're all interconnected and we're responsible for protecting our gorgeous resources here."
Retired teacher Patti Rankin was tutoring in her home and caught sight of the right whale’s body outside her window. At first she thought it was a capsized boat.
“I was debating whether to come down and see it up close,” she said. “Because it’s more disturbing than pictures … but I’m right here, so it was an easy thing to do, and see it close — and pay respects.”