Hurricane Florence brings whale ashore on Caswell Beach

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Chad Hicks, the town administrator for Caswell Beach, said the small beach town on Oak Island is doing pretty well — at least compared to some of its neighboring towns — in the wake of Hurricane Florence.

“If it wasn’t for all the limbs and siding down, it would look almost normal,” he said, estimating around 50 people weathered the storm out there.

The golf course on the town’s side of the island, around 30 minutes south of Wilmington, probably had the most severe damage, losing a lot of its trees and flooding, he added.

One thing that did stand out to residents, however, was the whale that washed ashore after the storm.

“We got a call a couple of days ago about” the whale, he said. “(Friday) we got the tractor out and buried it.”

Though, this too, is apparently a pretty normal event for the beach community.

“Lots of marine life washes up on the shore after a big storm,” Hicks said. “Whales and especially dolphins.”

Just last year, a young sperm whale — this one still alive at the time, though it later was euthanized — washed up ashore on the other side of Oak Island. A researcher from UNC Wilmington at the time theorized that it possibly was a victim of one of the series of strong hurricanes that came through the Atlantic Ocean in 2017.

No scientists were brought in to look at the remains of the whale Florence washed ashore — the town wanted to bury it as quickly as possible because of the potential foul smell.

Hicks wasn’t sure what type of whale it was since it wasn’t identified by any experts.

“Someone said it looked like a right whale, but honestly I don’t know,” he said. If it was, it was a young one, he said.

Hicks estimated the whale was probably around 20 feet long and the town’s tractor strained to move it.

The town buried it behind the dune line, a few feet under the sand.

“He had a dignified burial,” he said.