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Dead 65,000 pound humpback whale keeps washing up on Massachusetts beaches

Whale washes onto North Shore for second time
Whale washes onto North Shore for second time 02:12

SWAMPSCOTT - A dead, 65,000 pound humpback whale has washed up on a beach north of Boston once again.

The 42-foot-long whale drew a crowd in Swampscott Tuesday, with some people taking selfies with the carcass hours after she was found.

A dead humpback whale washed up on a beach in Swampscott on Tuesday, May 14, 2024. CBS Boston

Espresso the humpback whale

The whale, named Espresso by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), first washed ashore April 25 on Preston Beach in Marblehead. NOAA said they have three options when a dead whale lands on a beach - bury it in the sand, move it to a landfill or tow it out to sea. They decided to tow her out to sea on May 2. 

Moved 50 miles out to sea

A satellite transmitting tag was put on Espresso and the whale was moved more than 50 miles out in the ocean, according to Swampscott town administrator Sean Fitzgerald.  

But, the whale didn't decompose as fast as NOAA had expected and, twelve days later, she landed on a beach near Blodgett Avenue in Swampscott. Espresso was still there Wednesday.

"The Massachusetts bay is a large area, and it has a circular ocean currant. We are working with our Federal Agencies and Marblehead to find the right strategy to permanently see "Espresso" off for her final rest in an environmentally responsible manner," Fitzgerald said in a statement.  

A dead humpback whale washed up on a beach in Swampscott on Tuesday, May 14, 2024. CBS Boston

He noted that NOAA has known about the whale for a long time, having named her Espresso ten years ago. No one is sure how she died.

Dead whale smell

"It looks pretty bloated, too. I've heard that whales can build up a lot of gas inside of them after they die, which can be kind of dangerous," Cormack MacPhail told WBZ-TV after he came to the beach Tuesday to see the whale. "I am not trying to stay out here too much longer."  

"You can really smell it when it's on the other side of the wind," said Lia Odoardi, another onlooker.

"I normally come down here for walks either at lunch when I can, and then, of course, I saw the news and a ton of cars and was curious," Odoardi told WBZ. "I am just glad it's not the second one that was beached, and it's the same one, so it's not two whales in a short span of time."

If you see a dead or injured mammal on a beach, call NOAA's stranding hotline at 866-755-6622.

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