Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Fin whale's death at Delaware Seashore State Park is a mystery

Courtesy of Suzanne Thurman
MERR Institute

The investigation into a beached whale’s death at Delaware Seashore State Park continues.

The 50-foot whale beached itself Sunday just north of the Indian River Inlet and died soon after.

Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute (MERR) Executive Director Suzanne Thurman says it is unusual for a deep-water species such as a fin whale to show up on the beach.

“So just seeing that this species was involved told us immediately that there was something wrong with this animal, and it was extremely emaciated, which told us it hadn’t been eating for awhile, which usually indicates some underlying condition.”

Thurman says MERR worked around weather and tide challenges Monday to gather tissue samples from the whale’s organs. Initial results found no blunt trauma or viral infections.

“We will be processing the samples and sending them off for diagnostics to see if that yields anything in terms of any toxicity or diseases or something of that sort.”

Lab tests can take several weeks for diagnosis.

Thurman notes the whale - which weighs one ton per foot - was emaciated and had been sick for some time before it died.

The plan is to bury it on the beach.

In 2022, a fin whale beached itself and died at the nearby Cape Henlopen State Park. It was also buried on the beach.

Karl Lengel has worked in the lively arts as an actor, announcer, manager, director, administrator and teacher. In broadcast, he has accumulated three decades of on-air experience, most recently in New Orleans as WWNO’s anchor for NPR’s “All Things Considered” and a host for the broadcast/podcast “Louisiana Considered”.