Endangered whale washes up on shore in Virginia Beach

The endangered right whale washed up on Bay Lake Pines Beach on Feb. 13, 2023.

Logan Stanton

The endangered right whale washed up on Bay Lake Pines Beach on Feb. 13, 2023.

Ethan Locke, Staff Writer

A right whale washed up in the Bayside Area of Virginia Beach on Feb. 13, 2023. Fewer than 350 of its kind still swim in the Atlantic Coastal waters, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

The beached whale species is critically endangered. Three different organizations are involved in the removal of the whale including NOAA, the marine police and the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center.

Leading causes of whale deaths around the world include collisions with ships, entanglement in fishing gear and pollution, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF.)

“When the whale first washed up on Monday, I was at the Environmental Science Program, so my class walked to the stranding site. There was no visible trauma; however, the necropsy done a few days after revealed multiple fractures and other internal injuries that were aligned with a boat strike,” said junior Kate Roltollo.

Students a part of the Environmental Science Program urge student involvement through petitions, advocacy and raising awareness for more policies protecting whales, as well as captains driving with caution.

“The best way to prevent these deaths is to slow down and turn off boat engines when in contact with a whale. In some nabal organizations, there are even rules that require sailors to stop their engines in specific zones. These policies are stressed for right whales since they are such critically endangered species,” said Jesse Gutierrez.

Environmental Science Program students also emphasize the importance of whale contributions to the ecosystem.  

“Whales help with oxygen levels in water and also store a massive amount of carbon. These creatures are vital for the health and sustainability of our marine food chains,” said junior Logan Stanton.