The Outer Banks Marine Mammal Stranding Network is investigating a second case of a dead humpback whale washing ashore this year, this one in Nags Head.
The whale, which appeared to be about 12 to 15 feet long, was found near milepost 13. A necropsy will be performed on Friday morning. Earlier this year, another humpback was found dead on the beach in Corolla.
Last year, four humpback whales washed ashore dead along the Outer Banks and nearby in Virginia, a concerning trend for marine mammal experts.
Humpback whales migrate to the Caribbean in the winter, where they breed and give birth, then head back toward New England for the spring and summer to feed.
That means migrating humpbacks are swimming past this time of year, with many juvenile whales hanging around the Mid-Atlantic to feed rather than head south for romance.
More whales in the water means more risk of harmful human interactions.
Past findings from marine mammal stranding network investigations have led to seasonal management to reduce ship strikes, such as speed restrictions in known migration paths.
The reasons for marine mammal strandings vary, from disease to parasites to environmental injuries and weather events. Many times, a cause is never identified.
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Why are humpback whales dying along the Outer Banks?