In the past couple of weeks, WCA Partner Marine Mammal Alliance Nantucket (MMAN) found two sub-adult female Humpback whales stranded in Nantucket.
This occurrence is part of the ongoing humpback Unusual Mortality Event (UME) that is affecting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) / National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Greater Atlantic Region (Virginia to Maine). Since 2017, there have been more than 130 animals stranded in this area!
MMAN has collected data on 174 animals since the 1st of January, 2020 – of which 170 are pinnipeds (Grey seals, Harbour seals and Harp seals) and four are cetaceans (the two Humpback whales and two Short Beaked Common dolphins).
In the weeks prior to the stranding, humpback whales had been seen floating off New York and south of Nantucket, hence, it is unclear whether the individuals found by MMAN were the ones that had been sighted in the area, or different strandings.
When the carcasses were found by MMAN, they had been floating for some time and were heavily scavenged by several different species of sharks, including Great White sharks.