A 30-foot cetacean beached itself near the Brooklyn Army Terminal early on May 5 — and blew its last breath just a short time later.
Authorities report that the Sei whale — the third-largest species of plankton-eating marine mammals on the planet — washed up near the docks close to 58th Street around 9:30 am Monday. Police contacted the Army Corps of Engineers, which sent a crane-equipped drift-collection vessel to tow away the expired carcass at 9:45 am.
“The Corps of Engineers is committed to working with our partners in and around the New York Harbor to collect items, whether it’s a deceased whale or driftwood or other drift and debris, that could potentially be hazardous to marine navigation,” said spokesman Chris Gardner.
The Corps brought the body to New Jersey, where professionals from the Riverhead Foundation and Marine Mammal Stranding Center will perform an autopsy to determine cause of death.
Eyewitnesses told our sister publication the New York Post that the beast appeared to have a large gash across its body. Experts told the Post that the Hudson River is along the Sei whale’s normal migratory route. But Gardner said it was abnormal to find a whale past the Narrows — except when accidentally struck by a boat and dragged in.
“Whales generally do not naturally swim in the harbor, though it’s often the case that a whale found in the harbor like this has been brought into the harbor on the bow of a large vessel,” said Gardner, though he added that there is no evidence that this is what happened to the cetacean discovered this morning.
This is far from the first time that a warm-blooded creature from the deep has died on Brooklyn’s shores. A baby Minke whale, nicknamed “Sludgie,” famously meandered into the Gowanus Canal in 2007 and died after striking submerged rocks. Sludgie’s skull returned to the neighborhood as part of an educational exhibit in January.
Numerous dolphins have expired in the borough, most recently in November of last year, when one died in the Coney Island Creek. Another dolphin died in the fetid Gowanus Canal in January 2013, and two more were found dead on Coney Island beach last year — a baby in February and an adult last July. And a dolphin swam up the noxious Newtown Creek to its death in 2010.