A minke whale carcass that washed up in Folly Cove on Friday is proving an attraction for the curious.
Gloucester and NOAA officials are investigating to see how the whale might have died and are asking members of the public to stay away until they finish.
"Due to the slippery rocks, high surf and incoming tide, we ask that people please do not attempt to approach the whale carcass at Folly Cove," cautioned a post Saturday on the Gloucester Shellfish Constable's Facebook page. "The conditions in this area are hazardous and it is extremely dangerous to attempt to take selfies with the dead whale."
"It's still a marine mammal and still protected," said Shellfish Constable Peter Seminara.
The medium-sized, dead minke whale came ashore in Folly Cove where divers routinely enter the water in the cove, possibly a byproduct of storm winds blowing hard all day out of the north-northeast.
"It appears that it's been dead for quite some time and came in on the storm, which happens sometimes," Harbormaster T.J. Ciarametaro.
Friday's storm created heavy surf and the large waves made it difficult for responders to closely approach the carcass over the weekend.
Both Ciarametaro and Seminara said there are no plans currently to move the carcass which is located right above the high tide line.
Ciarametaro said there was no sign of gear entanglement and that responders had not yet been able to determine the whale's age.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials are working with the Seacoast Science Center Marine Mammal Rescue, based in Rye, New Hampshire, and the Gloucester shellfish constable to document the animal. Seminara said his deputy, Rebecca Visnick, and center personnel took some measurements Saturday morning but the findings had not been released Sunday afternoon.
Calls Sunday to NOAA and the Seacoast Science Center Marine Mammal Rescue were not returned by presstime Sunday evening.
"We will continue to examine (the carcass) closer as the weather and situation becomes safer this weekend," NOAA said on its NOAA Fisheries New England/Mid-Atlantic Facebook page.
Minke whales can grow to about 35 feet long and weigh up to 20,000 pounds, according to NOAA, are members of the baleen or "great" whale family, and are considered a stable population.
Staff writers Andrea Holbrook and Sean Horgan contributed to this report.