Humpback Whale Washes Up On The Point In Cape Henlopen State Park

   Yesterday a humpback whale washed up on the point.  Literally right on the end of the point, where we all like to fish in front of the lighthouse.  Points tot he whale for the spot burn.   

    A few people headed out yesterday to fish the point and when they got there this 40,000 pound humpback whales was washed up onto the point.  MERR was notified, meanwhile, the internet went crazy over pictures of the whale beached on the point.  All we kept thinking was the fishing around that tomorrow morning is going to be awesome.  Seriously, it is a huge chum slick at that point. 

    I loaded up this morning and headed down early, but not early enough.  I decided staying up till 3 to shoot the blue comet and maybe some meteors was smarter than getting up really early to fish a whale.  The comet is a story for later, it is pretty cool to see.

    The heavy machinery trailers were there in the parking lot and empty.  I aired down as fast as the Stauns could dump air.  There were guys in the parking lot with long sticks and bundles of big nets.  I kept thinking that isn’t the right attire to seine net the surf but have at it boys.  The air was down and I drove out to see a whale.  

   

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Humpback whale that washed up at Cape Henlopen State Park’s point beach

The DNREC crews had just pushed it up onto the point and got the humpback out of the water so they could stage the next phase.  Move the whale across the beach.  But first they had to wait for the scientists to get there and do their thing.  I seriously wanted to just fish while we waited but I decided it wouldn’t look too appropriate.  There were fish jumping beyond that beached whale in the surf line. 

    Suzanne Thurman from MERR got there and said she didn’t know what happened to the humpback whale.  She did say it weighed around 40,000 pounds, was a juvenile female most likely, and they had known about it since Saturday when it was seen near Cape May.  Passengers on the Lewes ferry posted a picture on social media of the humpback whale floating in the Delaware bay.  Not long after that it must have washed up on the point in Cape Henlopen State Park. 

 

whale, humpback whale, cape henlopen state park, the point, delaware, sussex county, MERR, arine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute, atlantic ocean bunker, whale stranding
Humpback whale that washed up at Cape Henlopen State Park’s point beach

Once the first round of checks by MERR, the team attached the ropes, and then the DNREC boys used those giant sand cats to push the whale, while they tried to drag it across the sand.  Keep in mind they are trying to move 40,000 pounds.  You mean you can’t just airdown a whale and yank her down the beach with my truck? … there were jokes, it was a long morning.   
     Tow straps are not going to work.  Big ropes were brought out of a truck.    The first attempt the rope snapped.  Don Gansauer … “These are the old ropes from the Overfalls Lightship, we just replaced them last year so I brought these out to see if they will help.  Hopefully they hold up they are some strong ropes, just old.  They were a donation from the Lewes Ferry.”  The ropes are reset and the machines move back in place.  

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    The rope tightens, and it slides down towards the tail.  We are thinking it might just pop off.  The tail bends under as the whale spins around.  The machine behind the whale is pushing while the other machine is pulling.  So far so good.  The tail is acting like a plow pushing sand ahead of the whale.  The DNREC crews smoothed the path out earlier with the sand cats.  They had a nice smooth way to a very large hole dug near the pipes.  

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Suzanne Thurman and the MERR crew taking measurements

   Once the whale was near the large hole, Suzanne Thurman and crew took measurements and other samples.  After that they had the crews flip the whale over and check the dorsal area.  Flipping over a 40,000 pound humpback whale takes some doing, but the DNREC crews got the job done and even used the loader to brush three feet of sand off the top of the whale.   More measurements of bite marks and observations were taken.  Then it was time for the hole.  They usually cut the whale up for this, I left I had to mail everyone’s May The Fish BE With You shirts out in time for Christmas.  Also on a side note, ten day old bunker smells better. 

    Kudos to MERR and all they do and the DNREC crews for their work today.  Those boys had a long morning.  Especially the one guy who had to spend all morning keeping water out of the hole they had to dig.  He spent hours just going back and forth moving water out of a hole.  

When we hear form MERR what happened to the whale we will let you know. 

Fish On!

Rich King   

     

    

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