A dead humpback whale was discovered Monday on a Berlin, Maryland, beach at the Assateague Island National Seashore.
The approximately 20-foot-long whale is currently located in the Maryland Oversand Vehicle Area, according to the National Park Service. There were no obvious signs of the cause of death.
The area is closed at the 21.8-kilometer mark to allow the whale to be safely tended to.
Park service staff contacted the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Stranding Response Program, the lead agency for stranding response in the state.
A necropsy was planned for Tuesday by staff from the Stranding Response Program and the National Aquarium.
After the necropsy is completed, the whale will be moved onto the dunes and allowed to dry out before its eventual burial. All parts of the animal are protected under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act and all marine mammals, dead or alive, are protected by the legislation.
The National Park Service warned that visitors who come across the whale should keep a distance and make sure that dogs are leashed.
The whale’s carcass is expected to smell for a while, but will not be an issue for more than 50 yards approximately from the actual location.
People who find any marine mammal or sea turtle washed ashore are advised to call the local stranding network.