NOAA admits feds unprepared to handle stranded whale

At a public meeting in Farmingville Tuesday evening, a group of residents accused federal officials of doing too little to try and save a stranded

The whale was stranded on a sandbar in November. Long Islanders were warned it was illegal to help move it, however many criticize NOAA for waiting days. The whale was eventually euthanized.

The whale was stranded on a sandbar in November. Long Islanders were warned it was illegal to help move it, however many criticize NOAA for waiting days. The whale was eventually euthanized. (2/7/17)

FARMINGVILLE - At a public meeting in Farmingville Tuesday evening, a group of residents accused federal officials of doing too little to try and save a stranded whale in Moriches Bay in November.

They say a slow response by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration led to the animal's death. Authorities euthanized the 30-foot whale after it spent days stuck on a sandbar.

Residents tried to free the whale for two days, despite warnings that they were breaking federal laws that prohibit touching whales.

Critics say slow-moving, bureaucratic decision-making led to the decision to kill it.

"This majestic animal lost its life because of incompetence and red tape," says Greg Miglino, of Brookhaven. He was one of about 100 Long Islanders at the meeting who demanded changes in how the NOAA handles future stranded whales.

"We need to always learn from our mistakes and grow," says NOAA's regional administrator, John Bullard.

At the meeting, the NOAA admitted that federal officials were unprepared to handle the unprecedented number of local resources offered to rescue crews.

"We were overwhelmed with calls and emails, and I think we need to do a better job of how we can handle those offers and be proactive," says Mendy Garron, the NOAA's regional stranding response coordinator.

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