A dead minke whale lies on the rocky backshore of Peaks Island on Saturday. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Peaks Island residents discovered a dead whale on the shore Saturday morning.

“It is a minke whale,” Sgt. Matt Wyman of the Maine Marine Patrol said. The agency is assisting Marine Mammals of Maine in getting to the island so officials can do sampling that will determine what happened to the whale, Wyman said. Minke whales are common in Maine, he said.

Mary Collari said she, her daughter and their dogs were out early Saturday for a walk along the shore. “I saw a large number of golf carts pulling over” and a small crowd had gathered, she said.

When Collari got closer, she saw the dead whale, which appeared to be about 20 feet long. “It’s sad,” she said. “It’s right on the shore on the southern part of Peaks Island.”

The mood of the crowd was somber, she said. “A lot of people there were quiet … respect for this magnificent animal.”

A small crowd gathers around a dead minke whale lying on the shore at Peaks Island on Saturday. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

She had heard that fishermen may have spotted the whale the night before.

On May 5, another minke whale died on the shore of Long Sands Beach in York. That night Marine Mammals of Maine received reports of a live minke whale in shallow water on the beach, but the whale died. Members of the nonprofit worked overnight to remove the body and transport it on a flatbed truck. The organization said it was a 25-foot male minke that was extremely malnourished and got stranded.

Minke whales in the United States are not endangered or threatened, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Threats to minke whales include vessel strikes, fishing gear entanglement, climate change and whaling. Several countries such as Japan, Norway and Greenland permit the hunting of minke whales in some cases, according to the NOAA.

The mammals can grow to be 30 feet long and weigh as much as 10 tons. Their lifespan is between about 30 to 50 years.

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