A humpback whale that was stuck on a sandbar in a Long Island, New York, bay for four days and was euthanized on Wednesday could have been saved if locals had been allowed to help, they charge.
Witnesses said that many people came up with ideas and equipment to assist the stuck baby whale, but authorities weren’t having it.
Before the baby whale was put down, a local told WABC7: ‘Some people have taken to their boats to try free the whale themselves. Someone even brought in a dredge Tuesday to dig a canal in the sand near the whale. The Coast Guard and police kept them away.’
Boaters were ordered to keep 150 away from the federally protected mammal.
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Locals desperately gathered at the beach every day to hatch a plan to save the whale
Residents said they offered boats, barges, and nets but were turned away in their offers of help – many cried as the animal was euthanized
The humpback, above, was relentlessly pecked at by seagulls as it lay dying, shown in drone video taken by a spectator
‘There are local people who want to help and use their equipment and services and they should work together and get the job done,’ said said Dave Newins, a Manorville resident.
Yet another said the heartbroken locals could hear the sounds of the animal suffering as it died and was being relentlessly pecked by seagulls.
‘A lot of the people that live here on the bay have been able to hear it from their windows at night crying,’ he said.
James Tylee, who posted drone video taken by Mike Busch of the whale dying, wrote on Long Island News 12: ‘You should be disgusted, you should be angry, but if you do NOTHING about it after you watch this whale die, you’re no better than any of them.’
The young whale was catching fish in Moriches Bay for about a week, but on Sunday it swam into shallow waters and got caught in a cove.
Officials said the whale was sick and took the decision to kill it.
The whale had been fishing in Moriches Bay for about a week, but got stuck on the sand bar in Hart Cove on Sunday
On Wednesday, veterinarians were brought in to examine the whale and decided it should be put down
Members of a crowd who had gathered to watch were crying as the creature was put down, PIX 11 reported.
Veterinarians said moving the whale would be difficult and may hurt the 15- to 20-ton animal even more.
NOAA vets said the animal was ‘limp, weak, minimally responsive, had evidence of neurological abnormalities, and extensive skin injuries with evidence of infection. Based upon these findings, the most humane option was to euthanize the whale since its chance of surviving in the wild was minimal.’
Brookhaven Deputy Town Supervisor Dan Paninco also told WCBS 2 that well-intentioned people using barges or netting to try to free the animal would likely have killed it.
But residents said response from NOAA was so slow that they were forced to try to take matters into their own hands.
‘They killed it! NOAA wouldn’t let us dredge just a couple yards to the right to free it… now it is dead. Great job, murderers … protecting it to death. Literally,’ wrote one outraged local, Phil Perlman, on Long Island News 12.
‘This is pathetic-with all the people there willing to help, only to be turned away. I do believe this whale could have been saved,’ wrote Raylene Lysen-Messina.
Messages of condolences to the whale began appearing on Twitter: ‘I’m sorry a rescue wasn’t allowed. I’m sorry you suffered. You’ll never be forgotten,’ wrote friend2eles.
Protesters gathered at the beach every day, demanding that something be done to save the whale’s life. Some of them held up ‘Free Willy’ and ‘Whale Lives Matter’ signs.
While humpback whales are common this year off the southern coast of Long Island, it’s unusual for them to stray this far into the bay.