Freed whale calf seen feasting on bunker fish off Montauk

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The humpback calf whose tail was anchored to the bottom of the Atlantic off Jones Beach State Park for at least four days until a herculean rescue freed him from two tons of fishing gear is surviving — and, while not swimming normally, has been feasting on bunker fish off Montauk.

“It’s really great news; sometimes we can go for weeks, we can go for years, before we understand the fate of disentangled whale,” one of his lead rescuers, Scott Landry, director of the marine animal entanglement response team at the Center for Coastal Studies, a Provincetown, Massachusetts-based nonprofit, said by telephone.

The 4-year-old was seen swimming and identified on Aug. 19 and 22 by Arthur Kopelman, president, the Coastal Research & Education Society of Long Island, of West Sayville.

That was about three weeks after Landry, part of a multiagency team, succeeded in what he termed one of the top five most difficult entanglements.

The steel cables and one-inch thick rope mooring the humpback to the sea bed were hidden from view and would have to be hoisted up, first by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration vessel and then by a much larger Army Corps of Engineers ship. And even the Army Corps’ bolt cutters could not slice through the cable; Landry’s team had to borrow their hacksaws too.

“The wounds were apparent; you can’t mistake it,” Kopelman said by telephone. One photograph shows what look like sizable gashes in the calf’s flukes, the lobes of a whale’s tail that give it a T shape, and


Extinct megalodon confirmed as the biggest fish in the sea

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This is an illustrated reconstruction of an adult megalodon.

Oliver E. Demuth

Of all the living fish in the sea, we know the whale shark to be the biggest. At up to eight or nine meters (roughly 28 feet), they eclipse all the other sharks alive in the ocean — and females reign supreme in the size stakes. But it certainly wasn’t always the case, as scientists have finally confirmed.

Published in Historical Biology, a study has confirmed that the now-extinct Otodus megalodon, or megatooth shark, once reached up to 15 meters (49 feet) in length — surpassing the present-day whale shark by almost seven meters (22 feet).

Generally portrayed as a gigantic monster of a shark in films like 2018’s The Meg, the real megalodon was a far cry from the 75 foot beast that makes cinema-goers shriek. But even if the length wasn’t quite what the movies make it out to be, the Meg certainly was the biggest fish in the sea for a while.

The study proved the shark’s length by using measurements taken from present-day lamniforms (the shark group to which the megalodon belonged) to estimate the body length of extinct forms, all through evaluating their teeth. It also showed that the megalodon’s size was an outlier, doubling the general limit of smaller lamniforms.

Kenshu Shimada, a paleobiologist at DePaul University in Chicago and lead author of the study, said in a press release, “Lamniform sharks have represented major carnivores in oceans since the age of dinosaurs, so it is reasonable to assert that they must have played an important role in shaping the marine ecosystems we know today.”

Co-authors and professors of environmental science at William Paterson University