🔴 A minke whale was spotted in the surf at Long Sands Beach in York Friday evening

🔴 Bystanders tried to push it back into the ocean at high tide

🔴 Marine Mammals of Maine is examining the whale to find out why it stranded

A minke whale that washed up on Long Sands Beach in York was taken away on a flatbed truck early Saturday morning.

The whale was found early Friday evening flailing in the water, and attracted a crowd to the beach. Witness Gary Stevens told NewsCenter Maine the size of the crowd was similar to a summer night.

York Police asked people to stay back from the beach to allow the Marine Mammals of Maine to work.

Allison Ferreira of NOAA's Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office said the MMoM's initial examination of the whale estimated its length at 25-26 feet, and in extremely thin body condition.  The flatbed took the whale to a compost facility, where MMoM biologists will conduct a necropsy to determine a cause of death.

It's not known if the whale was alive while in the surf. Police said it was dead as the Marine Mammals of Maine team worked to place it on the back of the truck.

Some tried unsuccessfully to push the whale back into the water as the tide came in, according to NewsCenter Maine.  According to the New Jersey-based Marine Mammal Stranding Center, that was likely not a good idea.

Director Sheila Dean told Patch of Middletown, New Jersey, that whales are federally protected animals. Good-intentioned bystanders risk injury to the animal, as well as federal charges. Dean said that stranded whales are already in poor health and beached for a reason. They will likely wash up on another beach.

Minke whale at the surface
Minke whale at the surface (Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society via NOAA)

Common Off the New England Coast

Minke whales, which translates to "winged whale", are members of the baleen or “great” whale family, and are the smallest but most abundant of the rorquals, according to NOAA Fisheries.  They are common in the Atlantic off the New England and mid-Atlantic states.

The species may have benefited from commercial whaling practices that go after larger whale species, which have allowed the minkes to prosper because of less competition and increased availability of food resources, the agency says.

Minke whales weigh 20,000 pounds on average, and are about 35 feet in length. They have a lifespan of about 50 years.

A humpback whale was spotted floating in the Atlantic off the southern York County coast on July 30, 2022.

The last time a whale was stranded in New Hampshire was in 2016, when a 30-ton female humpback named Snow Plow was found in Rye on June 17, 2016.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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