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Endangered whale washes up in Virginia Beach

A critically endangered right whale body on Virginia Beach
Laura Philion
A male North Atlantic right whale washed up at Chic's Beach on Feb. 13.

Read the original story on WHRO's website.

A critically endangered North Atlantic right whale was found dead along Chic's Beach in Virginia Beach on Monday — just under a week after a dead humpback was found nearby.

Curious beachgoers with their dogs crowded around the whale body near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel Monday morning to take pictures and pay their respects.

A team from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is due to complete a necropsy on the whale. After that, it will likely be buried near where it washed ashore.

Marianne Nicholson was out walking with her two terriers. She said she’s disturbed by the two recent strandings.

“We don’t know why they’re washing up or what’s going on,” Nicholson said. “It’s really sad.”

The North Atlantic right whale species is one of the ocean's most imperiled and vulnerable. Advocates estimate fewer than 350 are left.

Humpback whales, like the one that washed up near the Lesner Bridge last week, have bounced back from the brink of extinction and now number more than 80,000.

Ginger Ferris has lived in Chic's Beach for four decades. She's never seen a whale wash up there.

"It's particularly concerning that this is the second one in such a short time," Ferris said. "I think we just need to realize that we're all interconnected and we're responsible for protecting our gorgeous resources here."

Retired teacher Patti Rankin was tutoring in her home and caught sight of the right whale’s body outside her window on Monday. At first, she thought it was a capsized boat.

“I was debating whether to come down and see it up close,” she said. “Because it’s more disturbing than pictures … but I’m right here, so it was an easy thing to do, and see it close — and pay respects.”