A massive whale measuring 79 feet in length was found dead on Agate Beach in Bolilnas, which is about 13 miles north of San Francisco, and authorities believe the culprit may be a boat strike. Scientists from the Marine Mammal Center and the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco conducted a necropsy on the huge beast, taking blood and tissue samples.
They found what appeared to be blunt force trauma along the left side consistent with a boat strike, which is a major threat for whales. The whale creates a problem, as the carcass is virtually impossible to move and the smell is starting to become overpowering in the area. However, it’s good for scientists, as they rarely have an opportunity to perform a necropsy on a carcass in such excellent condition.
“We rarely have the opportunity to examine blue whales due to their endangered status,” Barbie Halaska, a research assistant at the Marine Mammal Center, said in a statement. “The opportunity to perform a necropsy on a carcass in this good of condition will help contribute to our baseline data on the species.”
Researchers were able to identify the whale based on photographs of its tail, which were compared to a database. It had been spotted all the way as far back as 1999, usually near Santa Barbara.
The carcass will be left on the beach so that birds can eat it and the body can decompose. Towing the carcass back into the water would be tough because of a reef along the beach.