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Cruise ship arrives in New York with dead endangered whale stuck on bow

Click to play video: 'New York City resident films cruise ship sailing into port with dead whale on it’s bow'
New York City resident films cruise ship sailing into port with dead whale on it’s bow
A cruise ship sailed into a New York City port this past Saturday with a dead sei whale across its bow, as captured in this video from NYC resident Pablo Santa Cruz. – May 9, 2024

A cruise ship entering a New York City port on Saturday attracted attention as it carried the carcass of an over 13-metre-long, endangered whale on its bow.

Marine authorities identified the mammal as a mature sei whale, a species of fast-swimming whale found in subtropical, temperate and subpolar waters around the world.

The whale was already dead when the MSC Meraviglia cruise ship, owned by MSC Cruises, arrived at the Port of Brooklyn.

A sei whale carcass was attached to a MSC Cruises ship as it arrived in New York City on May 4, 2024. Pablo Santa Cruz

A spokesperson for MSC Cruises told the Associated Press the company “immediately” notified relevant authorities about the whale.

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“We are deeply saddened by the loss of any marine life,” the MSC Cruises official said.

The whale was relocated to a beach in Sandy Hook, N.J., for a necropsy (animal autopsy) completed by the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society.

The Atlantic Marine Conservation Society conducted a necropsy of the sei whale in Sandy Hook, N.J. Facebook via Atlantic Marine Conservation Society

In a social media post, the organization said the necropsy “revealed evidence of tissue trauma along the right shoulder blade region, and a right flipper fracture.”

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The Atlantic Marine Conservation Society reported the whale’s gastrointestinal tract was filled with blood.

It is too early to determine if the whale was struck by the cruise ship before or after its death.

Still, Robert A. DiGiovanni, the chief scientist at the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, told the New York Times the 50,000-pound mammal’s full stomach likely indicated it was in good health and was probably killed by the vessel.

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The dead sei whale was moved to Sandy Hook, N.J. to better accommodate the use of heavy machinery necessary for the necropsy. Facebook via Atlantic Marine Conservation Society

DiGiovanni said the whale was already “pretty decomposed” when researchers began the necropsy.

The whale’s examination spanned four days and took place in New Jersey to allow for the use of the heavy equipment and resources needed to examine the sei whale carcass.

Other toxicology and life history studies are still being completed.

The MSC Meraviglia cruise ship docked in Brooklyn before continuing on to ports in New England and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

MSC Cruises maintains that the company follows all international regulations to protect whales, including scheduling — or avoiding — cruise trips through certain regions to prevent striking marine life. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is currently investigating the incident.

The Atlantic Marine Conservation Society issued a reminder that sei whales, like all whale species, are protected.

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“All dolphins, porpoises, and whales are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which makes touching, feeding, or otherwise harming these animals illegal,” the organization wrote. “The best way to assist these animals, and keep them and yourself safe, is by calling trained responders and maintaining a 150-foot distance.”

Sei whales are typically found in deeper waters, far from coastlines. They are an endangered species, much to do with historical commercial whaling, which targeted sei whales to harvest their meat and oil. Their life expectancy is approximately 70 years. There is an estimated 57,000 to 65,000 sei whales among the global population.

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