New York State Environmental Conservation police officer watches over a 35-foot humpback whale that is beached at Riis Park, March 31, 2020 in Queens, N.Y. Unknown at this time what caused the mammal to die. (Photo by Debbie Egan-Chin)
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State environmental officials were investigating the death of a 35-foot humpback whale that washed ashore on Jacob Riis Park beach in Rockaway, on Tuesday afternoon.
Officials say that according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there is currently no evidence that animals can spread COVID-19 to other animals, including people.
Police from the 101st Precinct and officers from the Department of Environmental Conservation responded to a call Tuesday at about 1:30 p.m. regarding a large humpback whale that washed ashore at Jacob Riis Park. When officers arrived, they found the huge whale beached in the rough surf.
Members of the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, New York’s lead large whale response organization, was notified to investigate the death and to work on a disposal plan to have the whale buried on the beach.
Atlantic Marine Conservation Society “AMSEAS” issued a statement on the find:
“The public should keep a safe distance as it poses a threat to public safety as the whale is in the surf. Currently, we are in communication with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, NOAA Fisheries, U.S. Coast Guard, and Gateway National Recreation Area, National Park Service to monitor the animal. DEC officers are onsite currently to keep people from congregating on the beach. We strongly encourage people to keep a distance, as they should in all stranding events, and continue practicing social distancing.”
The statement continued: “Just as these are unique times in our world, each stranding is unique and we are working under the policies set forth by New York State Governor Cuomo and with local municipalities to respond on a case-by-case basis. We continue to practice social distancing and along with many other nonprofit organizations, we have reduced our in-person workforce by 100 percent under New York State Executive Order 202.8. We urge the public to continue following the governor’s “New York State on PAUSE” policies and report strandings of these animals to the NYS Stranding Hotline at 631-369-9829. Our first priority is always the safety and health of our team and those around us.”
It was unclear at this time when officials would be able to deal with the whale as many of the state staff have been quarantined or are working from their homes.