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Apr 14, 2010 9:09 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Officials: Missing dart used to try to euthanize whale most likely washed out to sea

Apr 14, 2010 9:09 AM

The search for a missing dart used to try to euthanize a 30-foot-long whale this week will continue on Main Beach in East Hampton throughout the week, but officials say that the implement has most likely washed out to sea.

“It’s literally looking for a needle in a haystack,” said Trevor Spradlin, a spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. “If it sank and washed out to sea, it’s gone. If it floated, it could be washed up in the surf or floating out at sea. There’s not a tracking device on it. The fact that it hasn’t turned up in the past 72 hours is encouraging that it’s probably gone and will not turn up again.”

On Thursday, officials tried to euthanize the juvenile humpback whale stranded on Main Beach in East Hampton with darts, one of which bounced off the mammal and has since not been found. Officials with the NOAA said that the dart, which is about 2 feet long, contained 57 milliliters of a sedative that is currently being examined to determine if it is a health risk to humans. NOAA officials said the dart would pose minimal danger to humans, because the drug-containing agent of the dart had been deployed when it came into contact with the whale’s skin. Either way, Mr. Spradlin said that if anyone comes across the dart, the person should call 911 immediately.

“We’re very hopeful that the chemical sedation that was in the dart is expelled,” he said. “The dart hit the whale and ricocheted off. During the process, we’re hopeful that the drug was released when it hit the whale.”

On Saturday, divers and police with metal detectors combed the beach for the dart. Today, police again looked for the dart as part of a daily search of the beach that they usually complete, said East Hampton Village Sergeant Richard Mamay. On Monday, police will again rake the beach for the dart, and similar searches will continue throughout the week, Mr. Spradlin said.

Mr. Spradlin said that the whale was moved off Main Beach in a container. He did not know what would happen to the carcass, but he explained that there are a few options for disposing of such a large mammal—rendering it, incinerating it, putting it out to sea, or burying it.

The whale was first spotted on Main Beach on Tuesday morning.

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Each and every one of us who do not agree with how endangered whale’s stranding was handled should write to these 3 people and express our deep concerns that no lessons were learned, public was misinformed, necropsy was secretive and if another whale strand tomorrow the same approach will be used:
National Marine Fisheries Service Regional Stranding Coordinators
Headquarters Coordinators
Dr. Teri Rowles
Coordinator, Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Program (MMHSRP)
Tero.Rowles@noaa.gov
Dr. ...more
By new scientist (68), Clearwater on Apr 11, 10 2:53 PM
Thank you. I was deeply disturbed from day one for many reasons. I must say I am now a little relieved that NOAA is involved. Does anyone know which day did they actually arrive and see the whale for themselves? I did call them on Weds asking for their help as a concerned resident as I was truly worried it was way out of Riverhead's league. Do they bill the government / NOAA for the part in "the cleanup and necropsy" of endangered species?.
I just hope if they made a mistake and the whale ...more
By roxanne Briggs (10), East Hampton on Apr 11, 10 11:41 PM
1 member liked this comment
UPDATE -- THE "MONTAUK" MASSACRE:

Dart "most likely washed out to sea."

Hmmm, was it full or empty? Did it sink or float away? Seems nobody knows. No tracking device.

And apparently no one thought to attach a retrieval line to the dart before it became an "an arrow shot into the air, which landed who knows where?"

Montauk's spinal column is potential evidence in a criminal investigation and should be preserved in a refrigerated container (or freezer reefer) for ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Apr 11, 10 2:56 PM
This is just out of curiosity... did you choose the name Montauk? I haven't read it in any reports.

What is your source that, "The custodians of the whale "Montauk" are hereby notified that tampering with the whale carcass, failure to preserve it for further analysis, or destruction of it, will be punishable to the full extent of the law."

The area that the Whale washed up is not Trustees property. To the best of my knowledge and understanding of the Dongan Patent and NYS Law, ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Apr 11, 10 5:48 PM
Nature,

Yes, the name "Montauk ' was suggested in a previous post. Personifying the victim is a good thing in this pseudo-scientific circus. The dead whale is not just another whale, it is OUR "Montauk," and the community should own the resolution of this event.

Regarding the Notification of tampering/destruction etc. with evidence, please note the word "hereby." If anyone involved in the custody of Montauk's carcass reads this notification, or is informed about it, he or she ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Apr 11, 10 6:18 PM
"No, it would appear that they want to bury or incinerate the evidence ASAP. Hmmm, does this make anyone wonder?"

This is a very good point. I wonder if they checked for any evidence of acoustic trauma, ear bleeding and/or gas emboli in tissue and organs of the whale. Often whales/dolphins that strand alive have some sort of acoustic trauma and/or bends. It can occur as a result of the Navy sonar use or seismic exploration (airguns use). Professor Moore studies bones and bones of some stranded ...more
By new scientist (68), Clearwater on Apr 11, 10 6:36 PM
Thank you for clarifying.

What was, in your opinion, "illegal" with the way the federal government handled this situation?

It is my guess the Trustees have been quiet because they know a claim would not be supported as per case law and they would have no interest in the situation which in theory could result in them paying for the removal of the Whale.

Why would they want to be involved? What would be the benefit?
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Apr 11, 10 7:05 PM
Why has no legal authority stopped the destruction of evidence? What are they hiding?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Apr 11, 10 8:52 PM
Evidence of what?

I don't understand why you think something criminal was done. The FEDERAL government was in control the whole time (regardless of what was portrayed by the local Riverhead Foundation). What legal authority is going to step in? NOAA is the *TOP* authority in the country and this happened in US Waters on US Land.

You seem to not understand that a necropsy was performed by NOAA in conjunction with the Riverhead Foundation and samples of various parts of the ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Apr 11, 10 9:13 PM
Please see your disclaimer about not being combative or defensive.

Please answer why no legal authority has stopped the destruction of Montauk's precious body. What is the rush?

By PBR (4956), Southampton on Apr 11, 10 9:24 PM
I'm not being defensive - I'm trying to answer your question. NOAA is the top authority - therefore, no legal authority will step in because no one has the authority to do so.

Please explain what you believe was done illegally? You have continually implied and/or stated a crime was done, but have not laid out the basis behind this.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Apr 11, 10 9:38 PM
Preservation of evidence is routine just in case something criminal was done.

Your attitude BTW is completely combative and maybe defensive IMO.

The destruction of Montauk's body will ensure that an investigation will occur.

Are you involved in, or related to someone taking part in, the failed rescue effort? This might be a good time to come clean.


Your increasing combativeness belies your initial disclaimer IMO.

Good night.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Apr 11, 10 9:50 PM
I went on Wednesday for an hour to observe - that is my only connection to this event.

My apologies if I am coming off as combative - it is my frustration that is showing as you continued to imply something illegal was done but did not provide further explanation.

You have asked questions to which I replied, and the answers apparently were not satisfactory which resulted in having to reaffirm them. NOAA is in charge and will likely have an internal review.

It is my opinion ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Apr 11, 10 10:50 PM
Daily tabloid west of us is now reporting that an injured seal pup was found this morning just west of "Montauk's" last location, and that the Riverhead Foundation was called in for "the rescue!"

Any chance that this seal has a puncture wound from the dart?

Call in the fox to guard the chicken coop!
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Apr 11, 10 3:32 PM
This is just weird that the injured seal was found on the same beach where whale had stranded. I also saw some reports that a dolphin and a seal stranded around the same time as whale did, could anyone confirm this,please?
By new scientist (68), Clearwater on Apr 11, 10 4:54 PM
Yet they'd take the dead whale out to sea!
By transplanted newyorker (15), northeastkingdom on Apr 11, 10 7:05 PM
Considering that other stranded mammals, (seals), have been rescued, rehabilitated and released along Southampton beaches for decades, it it astonishing that nobody had a plan in place for rescuing a larger mammal. If Sam Sadove hadn't been forced out of the Aquarium Directorship as soon as the politicians took over his compassionate endeavor, there WOULD be a plan in place.

The responsible officers of government and the ocean environment have bungled this incident as egregiously as could ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Apr 11, 10 9:28 PM
2 members liked this comment
one of the rare times we agree....ditto, highhatsize...the entire episode was pathetic. The poor innocent calf suffered immeasurably as a result of human arrogance, down to it's last breath...after THREE bullets to the brain. God bless his soul..
By EQme (112), East Quogue on Apr 12, 10 8:35 PM
I believe that I read that a dolphin was reported swimming near the whale on the first day? Please see the youtube video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fp_motddvnQ
to search for it enter .....Dolphin saves whales in New Zealand
By roxanne Briggs (10), East Hampton on Apr 12, 10 12:28 AM
"9 whales are rescued and released in Fiji. Villagers got together and returned 9 whales to the sea. No NOAA, no "nonprofits", no "experts". Job is done by people who have no agenda and just wanted to help poor whales. Why are poor villagers able to do what 10 PhDs and dozens of "experts" are not?

http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=144320"
By new scientist (68), Clearwater on Apr 12, 10 6:35 PM
ummm...because they have no agenda,no egos, no "non-profits" to fund!!! hello?
By EQme (112), East Quogue on Apr 12, 10 8:42 PM
Apples to Oranges. Whales were stranded because of the tide - and the article doesn't give nearly enough information to make an educated comparison. It is likely the whale species was considerably smaller in size.

That being said, it's commended and I'm completely for rescuing wildlife when possible.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Apr 12, 10 9:05 PM
$
By ELECTRICUTIONER (65), east islip/montauk on Apr 12, 10 7:12 PM
Article updated.

Interesting quote:

"It’s literally looking for a needle in a haystack,” said Trevor Spradlin, a spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. “If it sank and washed out to sea, it’s gone. If it floated, it could be washed up in the surf or floating out at sea. There’s not a tracking device on it. The fact that it hasn’t turned up in the past 72 hours is encouraging that it’s probably gone and will not turn up again.”

Let's emphasize the ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Apr 14, 10 7:34 PM
Correction:

"East End Stranded Ocean Life Rescue Team"

From the Sag Harbor weekly paper.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Apr 14, 10 8:19 PM