Snowplow the Humpback Whale

Posted on June 30, 2016

Ashley Stokes | NH Marine Mammal Rescue Team Coordinator

Warning: These are graphic photos documenting the necropsy of Snowplow, a 45 foot, 18 year old humpback whale who died at sea and washed ashore in Rye.

Our New Hampshire Marine Mammal Rescue team worked tirelessly for 3 days to help coordinate this response with our colleagues at New England Aquarium, federal state and local officials, as well as NOAA Fisheries and other agencies.

Externally, there were no signings that showed what may have happened to this young whale, and Humpbacks are an endangered species, so it was important that we do our due diligence as biologists to learn as much as we can from this great whale. Internally, her organs were in advanced decomposition, but NEAq sampled what they could, in hopes that in the coming weeks, some pathology results might shed some light on what happened to Snowplow. We will be sure to share any information available in the coming days.

We hope you might consider supporting our¬†Marine Mammal Rescue Team’s work by making a donation in Snowplow’s memory. With limited federal funding, we rely heavily on the support of donations to continue doing this important work for marine mammals!

Thank you to everyone who has shown so much support as we worked through this challenging case with this massive whale; especially to all of the MANY non-profit, federal, state, town, and other local agencies that all came together to further the education about Snowplow’s life.

Snowplow’s fluke. Important note: the rope around her peduncle/tail stock was applied by us, to keep her tethered in case the high tide began to float her.


All workers gather: teams from New England Aquarium, Seacoast Science Center, Blue Ocean Society, NH DOT, Rye Police, NOAA and more.

Necropsy work begins.

Biologists begin to cut away the skin and layer of blubber in organized sections.



A full double rainbow brought a smile to weary workers… an amazing site and much needed boost!

For more images, visit the NH Marine Mammal Rescue Team’s facebook page.

View Previous Post


, , , ,

Seacoast Science Center will be CLOSED today: Friday, April 5, 2024. Our utilities are currently down and need to get repaired before we are able to open for visitors. Thank you for your understanding. 

CLOSED today.

Seacoast Science Center is closed today due to inclement weather.