The Marine Mammal Stranding Network confirms that a young humpback whale washed up on Masonboro Island. It’s probably been dead for around a couple of weeks and is well along in the decomposition process. Because it is still in the intertidal area it is going to continue to send out a strong signal to sharks and other sea life in the area as lots of fluids are continuing to drain away into the surf. Large pieces are likely to continue breaking off and traveling in the nearshore and the main carcass itself may relocate at some point. It will be difficult to predict how long it will be an attractant or where it may land next.
The marine mammal folks also want to take the opportunity to pass on a couple of other things with the shark warning:
Island shorelines like Masonboro are an excellent place for the mammal to come to rest. The natural process is for animals like this to continue to feed and redistribute nutrients to the surrounding habitats.
Sharks, fish, birds, and others rely on events like this to provide food for offspring and so on.
Marine mammals are protected by federal laws even post mortem. It is illegal to take or possess any part of the animal. Nor would you want to at this point – the smell can be difficult to wash off.
Since the Marine Mammal Stranding Network already knows about it and checked things out there is no need to call it in again if you happen to see it.