Dead whale draws crowds in Ocean City, NJ

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Talk about a tourist attraction! The beautiful weather and the prospect of seeing a whale in person brought hundreds of people to the Ocean City boardwalk Tuesday.

"I've never seen this. I'm probably never going to see it again," said Barbara Hartka of Atlantic City.

Hartka was among the crowds who came to get a look at a 62-foot adult male fin whale that washed up dead Monday near the beach on Seventh Street.

RELATED: Photos of the beached whale

"Never seen a dead whale before. Never seen one alive. Just kind of an interesting thing to see," said Lisa Bagherpour of Deptford, N.J.

Kept off the beach by police, people stood on benches, garbage cans and planters to watch as scientists and volunteers with the Marine Mammal Stranding Center measured and examined the whale, which came to rest on its back.

"Oh it's really sad," said Joann Morrissey of Ocean City, N.J. "It's just a beautiful creature and it's laying there dead. It's really sad."

"I can just catch the top side of him, that's it," said Ray Kuropatwa of Wildwood, N.J. "It's big. I didn't realize it was that big."

The scientists examined the whale carcass in an effort to determine the cause of death. the 25- to 30-ton mammal may have been dead for as long as a week and the decomposing giant at times gave off a powerful odor.

"When you get it it's really bad, yeah," said Michele Whitworth of Ocean City, N.J. "Really smelly. You don't want to be here."

"Such a large animal, my gosh!" said Fran Morrissey of Ocean City, N.J. "When are we going to see something like this again? I guess it just doesn't happen that much."

A dead whale was spotted last week in the shipping lanes between New York and New Jersey. It's possible this whale may have been hit and drifted here.

The whale will be dissected and buried on the beach near the Longport Bridge in Ocean City.

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