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Something’s killing humpback whales near the Outer Banks. Three are beached in 5 days

Edward Ponton posted this photo on Facebook, saying it was the whale that washed ashore near Sandbridge, Virginia, early Sunday. Facebook screenshoot
Edward Ponton posted this photo on Facebook, saying it was the whale that washed ashore near Sandbridge, Virginia, early Sunday. Facebook screenshoot

Five days after a humpback whale washed ashore at North Carolina’s Oregon Inlet, two more appeared over the weekend on the barrier islands that line the Virginia-North Carolina coast, according to a Facebook post by the Lago Mar on the Back Bay community in Virginia.

One humpback whale was found around midnight Saturday in Corolla, N.C., and the second came ashore Sunday near Sandbridge in Virginia’s Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, said the post.

“These are the second and third juvenile Humpbacks found dead on the Currituck Banks Peninsula in less than a week,” said the post. “Another was found on February 12 north of Oregon Inlet near Nags Head.”

TV station WTKR reported a Currituck County Sheriff’s deputy was the first to find the 33.5-foot whale that washed ashore Sunday near Corolla. The Center for Wildlife is conducting a necropsy, after not finding “signs of scavenging or trauma,” the station reported.

Details were not available on the humpback that washed ashore late Saturday or early Sunday at Sandbridge, Virginia.

The first of the three, found Tuesday at Oregon Inlet, was 38 feet long and was reportedly seen floating for at least a day off the N.C. coast before it washed ashore, according to the Island Free Press.

Karen Clark of the Outer Banks Mammal Marine Stranding Network told the Island Free Press skin samples of the whale were taken and a case of death had not been determined.

Two of the three were too decomposed to easily tell what killed them, while the third showed evidence being hit by a ship, according to a post by the Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network.

In a fourth incident, the Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network reported Feb. 13 that a dead Blainsville Beaked whale washed ashore “on a remote island” near Georgetown, South Carolina. The animal had been heavily scavenged, said the post. Skin samples were taken and the skull of the whale was collected for research, said the post.

A pod of Humpback whales was seen off the north end of Myrtle Beach this week. Rob Young, a professor of marine science at Coastal Carolina University confirmed the sighting and said Humpback and endangered Right whales migrate past the Grand Stra

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Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering beats including schools, crime, immigration, the LGBTQ issues, homelessness and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.


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