EAST MORICHES, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Efforts to save a baby whale off the south shore of Long Island are being stymied by the very rules that are meant to protect it.
The 25-foot marine mammal has been stranded on a sandbar in Moriches Bay since Saturday.
The humpback whale was chasing prey when it became trapped as water levels in the bay receded, driven by heavy winds.
Patchogue resident Vinny Conwell went out Monday night to try to help. He, along with other volunteers, ignored federal laws against closely approaching whales.
According to Conwell, the whale moved about eight feet before becoming lodged on another section of the sandbar.
As CBS2’s Christine Sloan reported, marine biologists suspect the whale’s 20-ton weight is crushing its internal organs.
Local leaders say they’ve received numerous offers to bring in heavy machinery to assist, but were rejected by federal authorities.
“It’s an endangered species and federally protected so NOAA takes the lead here,” said Brookhaven Deputy Town Supervisor Dan Panico.
Town officials told CBS2 that federal officials have said no to using barges or netting, arguing it would likely kill the whale.
The Riverhead Foundation of Marine Research and Preservation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tried several efforts to dislodge the whale but couldn’t.
New York Governor Andrew pledged Tuesday to make available all state equipment and resources to ensure the well-being of the stranded whale.
Whale experts are being summoned to assess the situation. It could be days before the whale frees itself or a decision is made to euthanize it.
Officials say the whale’s condition appears to be worsening.
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