A dead humpback whale was discovered adrift off the coast of New York, and a large great white shark wasted no time turning the tragedy into a meal, drone video shows.
The grisly dinner for one was recorded May 31 by Fish Guy Photos (educator Chris Paparo), which noted the adult whale was seen 5 miles south of East Hampton on New York’s Long Island.
“I went to check it out and found this decent sized (near 10 feet) great white feeding on the carcass,” Fish Guy Photos wrote June 2 on Facebook.
“If you watch to the end, you’ll see it chomp away and take off a huge chunk of blubber.”
The video shows the shark was working its way around the whale, chewing at the edges as if it were a giant piece of corn on the cob. In some instances, the shark bites down and appears to use its teeth like a saw, whipping its head back and forth to slice pieces away. Seabirds are also seen helping themselves to the blubber.
The whale was largely intact when it drifted into Shinnecock Inlet near Southampton on June 1, according to photos shared by Mike Busch of Great South Bay Images. Busch reports it was later pulled onto the beach for burial.
A second video of the whale nearing the inlet shows a different great white shark assumed control of the carcass a half mile from the beach, Fish Guy Photos reports.
NOAA Fisheries New England/Mid-Atlantic says closer inspection revealed the whale was a 47-foot-long male.
“While this carcass was heavily decomposed, scientists observed bruising in the blubber (and) muscle on both sides of the head,” NOAA Fisheries reported.
“The cause of death was suspected blunt force trauma, & samples were collected for further analysis.”
It was one of two dead humpback whales that drifted ashore in the region, and the other also appeared to have been injured in a boat strike, NOAA Fisheries said. The other was a 28-foot female, officials said.
“While these whales were seen on the same day, their different levels of decomposition indicates that these strandings were not related,” NOAA said.
Humpback whales are an endangered species threatened by “entanglement in fishing gear, vessel strikes ... and underwater noise,” NOAA reports. The whales reach up to 60 feet and 40 tons, and may live 80 to 90 years, experts say.
“Humpback whales are vulnerable to vessel strikes throughout their range, but the risk is much higher in coastal areas with heavier ship traffic,” NOAA says.