A live humpback whale was found beached on a remote Canada island and closer inspection revealed it was a documented whale not seen in 30 years, according to the Marine Animal Response Society.
The rediscovery ended tragically when the whale suffered a slow, painful death, the society reported in a Nov. 20 Facebook post.
The cause — like so many other things about the whale — is a mystery.
“Some live animal incidents are really difficult to deal with due to safety concerns, location, logistics and the size of the animal. When all these things collide, response can be nearly impossible, much to the heartbreak of all involved,” the society reported.
“Such was the case on November 2nd when a live, adult male humpback whale was reported ashore on Sable Island National Park Reserve. ... Given the size of the humpback and its location on the south side in dangerous surf conditions, there wasn’t much that could be done to help.”
So dire were conditions on the beach that the whale could not even be “humanely euthanized.”
The whale died “after several days,” officials said, and a necropsy of the carcass was not possible.
A photo of taken by Parks Canada helped the Center for Coastal Studies and Allied Whale at the College of the Atlantic identify the massive creature. They discovered it was one “sighted in 1982 on Silver Bank off the Dominican Republic,” which is nearly 1,900 miles south of the island.
That means the whale was at least 43 years old, officials said.
“Interestingly, the animal hadn’t been seen again since the early 1990s leaving us to wonder where this animal spent the last three decades. Our understanding from CCS is that this animal did not have a name,” the society said.
“From what was able to be observed of the animal, there were no external signs of injury or trauma. As such, we do not know why this animal died.”
Sable Island National Park Refuge is in the northwest Atlantic, about 150 miles southeast of Nova Scotia.