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March 21st, 2010

Fin Whale…Stranded…Delaware Beaches…Fenwick Island…


I have never seen a dead stranded whale.  I decided to take a ride to Fenwick Island and see if I could find it.  Driving from Rehoboth, the direction is south and a little bit before entering the town of Fenwick I saw cars parked on the side of the road by the beach.  That was the site.

It was so sad to see such a majestic animal beached on such a beautiful day.


I still had to walk on the beach and I could see some people standing by the edge of the water.  A representative from the MERR Institute was there and was giving information.  The MERR Institute, Inc., located in Nassau, Delaware is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of marine mammals and sea turtles.


MERR stands for The Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute, Inc. It is authorized by the National Marine Fisheries Service and the State of Delaware to be the official stranding respondents for the Marine Mammals and Sea Turtles of Delaware.


MERR responds to stranded marine mammals and sea turtles wether they are alive or dead.  They conduct research on marine species, education and outreach programs for schools and groups.  They participate in the Northeast Regional Stranding Network.

Please visit their website,  You may also e-mail them to  Their telephone number is 302-228-5029.  This also the number for the Stranding Hotline.  If you ever encounter such a situation, please do not disturb or attempt to return a stranded animal to the water.  This telephone number is the number to call at any time.

As a group of us were standing just staring at the whale, the MERR representative told us that this was a Fin Whale.  It is the second largest whale known to man.  This particular one was 62 feet.  Already samples were taken for analysis.  This whale was also middle age.


This whale will be transported to, I believe, an area of the State Park, and a necropsy will be performed.  Apparently, the odor will be intense, to say the least.  Then after everything is finished it will probably be buried.  Every state has its own procedures in dealing with something like this.

Autopsy vs. necropsy?  An autopsy is performed on humans and a necropsy is for any other specie.  This info. is courtesy of my niece, Joanne, who is at vet school in North Carolina.

I wanted to find more info. on the Fin Whale and it was interesting to find out that besides being the second largest whale, it is also the second largest living animal after the blue whale.  It can grow to be 88 feet long.

The Fin Whale is long and slender.  The fin whale’s body is brownish-grey with a paler underside.

The whale has a series of 56-100 pleats or grooves along the bottom of the body that run from the tip of the chin to the navel that allow the throat area to expand greatly during feeding.  It is a filter-feeder, feeding on small schooling fish, squid, and crustaceans.


Fin whales have been known to leap completely out of the water.  It is also one of the fastest whales with speed of 23 miles per hour.

The Fin Whale was heavily hunted during the 20th century and is an endangered species, with only about 3,000 remaining in the Southern Hemisphere.

I asked the MERR volunteer what she thought it could have happened to this whale and she said that until its necropsy is finished they will not know.  But she did mention that apparently a report was called in that a ship in the Channel had hit a whale and the whale went under.  It is not sure if it is this whale, but they will look for signs of trauma and a broken jaw.

I said how sad and she said not to be; a lot will be learned from studying this beautiful whale.

 Note:  Information on Fin Whales was taken from



See you…have a great evening….

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This entry was posted on Sunday, March 21st, 2010 at 6:40 pm and is filed under Delaware Beaches, Fenwick Island, General, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

18 Responses to “Fin Whale…Stranded…Delaware Beaches…Fenwick Island…”

  1. […] Fin Whale…Stranded…Delaware Beaches…Fenwick Island… – About My Beaches […]

  2. Roberta says:

    Amazing story and pictures! Leave it to Gloria to know more about what’s going on right up my street.
    We were wondering why all the cars were parked up the street rather than at the state park on such a nice day. As far as the odor goes–must have been a south wind–no odor here!

  3. admin says:

    As sad as it was to see the demise of the fin whale; it was interesting to see how big these animals are. There was not too much of a smell there but there will an unbelievable odor once they start doing the necropsy. Don’t worry, it won’t be anywhere near us. Thanks, for your comments.

  4. Clare Conley says:

    Hello, I just discovered your blog after looking for stories on the internet about the beached whale found in Fenwick Island this weekend. I,too,went specifically to go check-out the scene, as I live in Ocean City and have a store in Bethany Beach.

    It was an amazing sight to see such a massive creature so close. Thanks for your pictures and facts about the whale, and for your other blog posts.
    Sincerely, Clare

  5. admin says:

    Hi Clare: Thank you so much for your comments. That fin whale was really incredible, as you said. I’ll stop by your shop soon since it is that time of the year when people are getting their places ready for the summer season and it would be nice to show your store off. I will be in touch. Thanks,

  6. Thank you says:

    Thank you for posting an important story. It’s nice to see more coverage than the typical, short media clips. However, I have to correct you on one minor thing:
    The whale was not “stranded” or “beached”… those terms are used to describe living animals. This (unfortunately) dead whale had “washed up” onto the beach.
    Thanks again!

  7. admin says:

    Thank you so much for your comments. Per the information I found on the MERR Institute, Inc. Stranding Hotline it said “Do not disturb or attempt to return a stranded animal to the water. Report live and dead stranded marine mammals and sea turtles by calling the 24 hour stranding hotline #.” That number is 302-228-5029. But, I agree that even though stranded means “put into a helpless position” washed up is a better term in the case of the dead whale. Again, thanks.

  8. Your blog is terrific! Thank you so much for the best coverage I’ve seen yet on this unfortunate finding on our beloved beaches in Fenwick Island. My husband, myself & our 2 dogs ventured down to the beach Sunday and were both very upset at the site of this majestic mammal and are doubly upset to learn she was also an endangered fin whale. We’ve cruised and learned that cruise ships in AK cut their engines when whales are present and have sonar to warn them away and wonder what the maritime rules are here on the East Coast that so many are being struck by ships before landing on our beaches? Hopefully, we’ll learn more in coming days on that issue. I wonder if you’d mind if I included your link in my blog?

  9. admin says:

    Thank you so much for your comments. It really was an amazing sight. You may include my link in your blog. I read your blog and it does look very good as well. Again, much appreciated.

  10. Gregg says:

    Some updates with the fin whale(I was a member of the MERR necropsy team on Monday that helped Suzanne Thurman). It was only twenty years old, and weighed at least 100,000 lbs. The whale appears to have died from a blunt force trauma, most likely a boat strike. Fin whales can grow to almost eighty feet and weigh over 200,000 lbs. To the public that traveled to see this amazing creature, thanks for supporting MERR’s efforts in understanding more about the marine mammals and sea turtles that visit Delaware’s coastal waters.

  11. admin says:

    Thank you so much for the update.

  12. […] the fin whale that washed ashore this past weekend in Fenwick Island. Be sure to check it out at www.…For lots of photos and more information about MERR Institute check out […]

  13. admin says:

    Thanks for the comments to the blog.

  14. It was so interesting to see this animal. We vacation every year at ocean city but prefer to stay just at the border of fenwick Island and we love your town. Just curious if this has happened before and if any in the summertime

  15. admin says:

    Hi, thanks for your comments. This has happened a few times before. I will have to check if it was in the summer. I think the last one was either in 2006 or 2008. I think it is the first time it was a fin whale, though. Ocean City has had a few as well.

  16. admin says:

    For more information on the whale, and other whales, please visit Thanks.

  17. […] Fin Whale…Stranded…Delaware Beaches…Fenwick Island… – About My Beaches […]

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