Tuesday April 04, 2017 Beached Dead Humpback Whale on a Rockaway Beach
Tuesday April 4th the Rockaway Peninsula had a Juvenile Male Humpback Whale carcass wash up on Beach 117th. The cause of death was a ship strike. As sad as this event was it provided me an opportunity to document a Humpback Whale up-close and personal.
First thing I did was look at the tubercles or hair follicles on this whale. HAIR ON A WHALE…YUP! The bumps on the head and the pectoral fins of a humpback whale are hair follicles. These bumps are called “tubercles,” and contain one hair follicle each, connected to a set of sensitive nerves. I thought the hairs would feel more like a "Cats Whisker" or a bristle but it didn't! It was soft and was greyish white, just like a human hair but maybe just a little thicker.
Some think that tubercles serve as a sensory organ for the whale. It is thought that the single hair in each tubercle is used to detect temperature change in the water, the speed of the whale. It may even help to detect the presence of prey in the whale’s “blind spots.”
Along with the idea that these tubercles serve a sensory purpose, comes an idea that tubercles assist with the hydrodynamics of the animal. It has been shown that these bumps increase lift and decrease drag in the water. YES, just like the dimples on a Golf Ball create a turbulent layer around the surface of the ball. Which actually makes it slide through the air more easily, the dimples reduce the drag. The Tubercles essentially do the same thing but in water.
This Humpback had a run in with an entanglement, you can clearly see the scaring on the Peduncle to the Fluke. Most humpbacks in their life will be entangled in some sort of fishing gear or man made object and for some its the death of them.
All over this Humpback Whale were an excessive amount of Sea Lice. WOW, these things have to be extremely bothersome to Humpback Whales. I think almost all have a few but when a whale gets sick or hurt from a propeller or ship strike these bastards infest the wound to the point of not seeing the wound!
Lots of gooseneck Barnacle that make their home on top of another Barnacle that is only found on Humpback Whales.
This Humpback Whale was struck by a big ship! As I walked up the first thing that stood out was the skin was missing from a large area and that area it was black and blue. The skin looked like a 1/4-1/2 inch thick black rubber mat and felt like it as well.
I was totally blown away at the amount of "IDIOTS" there are in this world. I walked up to the area where the whale was before it was dragged out and up the beach and a few things jumped out. Selfies and people kicking the whale. The amount of people wanting to take selfies and family photos with a dead whale is disturbing. Its not an everyday occurrence but what holiday do you break out the "little Johnny standing in front of a dead whale photo?" The kicking I don't get and the Park Police and NYPD too care of that quickly. No photos of these idiots!
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