Biologists : Humpback whales dying at alarming rate off East Coast

BOSTON (WHDH) - New England Aquarium biologists say Humpback whales have been dying at a rate nearly three times greater than normal along the East Coast over the past two years, and that reality was on full view in the Boston-area Friday morning.

Dead humpback whales were found washed up on Little Brewster Island in Boston Harbor and about 30 miles north on Revere Beach.

Video from Sky7 HD showed a 50-foot adult female that had its tail flukes wedged among the boulders of a rocky point on Little Brewster Island.

Biologists say the carcass was leaking oil, quite bloated and appeared to be several days old. There was no evidence of entanglement or open trauma from a vessel strike.

The 35-foot carcass on Revere Beach was first spotted floating a couple miles off of Gloucester on Sept. 7 before it washed up in Cohasset two days later. It was towed out to sea and lingered in the water for more than a week before drifting back to shore.

Crews moved the whale up the beach, dug a massive grave and buried it. A large piece of the whale’s vertebra was preserved for research purposes.

Massachusetts State Police/Twitter

Despite being a dense urban area, Boston often has dozens of whales in the area feeding just 25 miles east of the city and north of the tip of Cape Cod.

Since January of 2016, more than 80 humpbacks have died along the East Coast from the Carolinas to Maine, according to the NOAA. It’s a rate of more than 30 deaths per year, while the previous five-year average had been 12 humpback whale carcasses washing up.

Researchers say many of the whale deaths were caused by contact with boats or propellers.

Aquarium biologists plan to continue their investigation into the carcasses that were found off Boston and Revere.

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