A 46-foot fin whale, dubbed Willy by locals, has died after being stranded and then beached near Lewes Thursday.
The MERR Institute and Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control responded to reports of the endangered fin whale, or razorback, swimming inside of the breakwater near the East End Lighthouse.
Officials hoped that the whale would swim away during high tide, but it ended up beaching near Cape Henlopen State Park. The animal likely was injured or sick, officials said Thursday.
DNREC says blood samples will be taken and an autopsy will be conducted to determine a cause of death. Heavy equipment will be used to dig a trench to bury its remains.
The whale got quite a bit of attention on Thursday.
Videos and photos of the visitor were trending on social media locally, with guests aboard Cape Water Tours’ dolphin watching trip and nearby boaters getting a closer look under the watchful eyes of DNREC enforcement.
MERR says it could take several weeks before a cause of death is determined.
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