Dead Whale Washes Ashore in Rye, New Hampshire, Draws Major Crowd

A necropsy is scheduled for Wednesday at Rye Harbor State Park

A fascinating sight on Rye Beach in New Hampshire is drawing huge crowds.

Now, scientists and state leaders are trying to figure out exactly how to get a dead humpback whale off the beach in time for the holiday weekend.

The beach has been crowded all day long and it's because we very rarely get to see a 30-ton humpback whale in it's entirety.

Scientists tell necn she died decades before she should've and so their first priority is figuring out what killed her.

For the first time in 16 years, a whale has washed ashore in New Hampshire.

"It's just so sad, it's devastating to see," said Haverhill, Massachusetts, resident Sarah Emilio.

Kittery, Maine, resident Ashley Lockwood agreed, saying, "It's really surreal, you feel like this kind of thing shouldn't happen here."

And this isn't just any whale, residents and scientists know her as "Snow Plow."

"We're unsure how she got the name exactly," said Ashley Stokes with the Marine Mammal Rescue Team.

The 45-foot-long, 30-ton, endangered humpback whale is only 18 years old.

"It is so important especially for an endangered species to do as much as we can scientifically to find out why she perished at such a young age," Stokes said Tuesday.

On Wednesday, with the help of heavy equipment, experts will conduct a necropsy which means they will cut her open to examine her organs right here on Rye Harbor State Park.

"It will be gruesome or gory," admitted scientist Connie Marigo with the New England Aquarium. "Right now, it's in the shape of a whale, it looks like a whale, but tomorrow afternoon that won't be the case."

Then comes the most challenging part - removing 30-tons of blubber and skeleton in time for the holiday weekend and the several weddings scheduled at the State Park overlooking the beach.

"It's not an option that it stays here into the weekend it can't because it is so busy," said New Hampshire Fish and Game Lt. Mike Eastman. "Time is of the essence."

Officials say the carcass will be gone by Friday, though Snow Plow's story won't soon be forgotten.

"I think it has brought the community together because we're sad," said Rye resident Pamela Sheeren. "I wish it has 60 more years in the ocean."

Experts are warning families that what you'll see on the beach in the coming days might be disturbing for some, but also a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience.

Because of Snow Plow's popularity, by Tuesday evening, traffic was backed up and there was a major parking shortage near the state park.

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