NORFOLK — The beach was busy Monday, but not because of warm weather.
Instead, curious onlookers arrived wearing parkas and gloves to catch a glimpse of the 42-foot dead sei whale that washed ashore at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay on Sunday.
"I don't often get a chance to do that," said Knox Garvin, a photography teacher at Norview High School in Norfolk.
He was among dozens of people Monday morning in Norfolk’s
The crowd was so constant — schools, many government offices and some business were closed due to Presidents Day — that the
The stranding comes during what’s been Virginia’s most active whale-watching season in recent memory. Researchers from the
It's not only whales — fishermen say tuna and other large fish are swimming close to shore. Researchers speculate they're following menhaden and other feeder fish.
"It's all about access to food," Barns said.
Many of the whales are humpbacks, which are common this time of year in the mid-
The sei — pronounced “say” or “sigh” — is seen less often, she said. According to the
The population was greatly depleted due to commercial whaling in the 19th and 20th centuries. Protected under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and as an endangered species, there are an estimated 80,000 worldwide.
Researchers have not determined what killed the whale — a necropsy is scheduled Tuesday — but they believe it was struck by a ship. The whale had an 18-inch gash on the back of it's head, which fractured its skull, and traces of orange and brown paint or rust were in the wound.
During that time, only three sei whales were reported as possibly hit by a ship. Most whale strikes are fatal, the report says. It’s possible the whale in