Scientists have determined the cause of death of a sperm whale that washed up on shore in Oregon over the weekend.
A necropsy was finished on Monday by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who determined that the whale was hit by a vessel. NOAA spokesperson Michael Milstein said that the whale passed away after being hit by a ship as internal bleeding revealed that the whale had been struck.
“The whale then apparently floated a while before washing ashore on Saturday,” Milstein told KOIN 6 News.
The Seaside Aquarium noted that the whale was not alive prior to when it arrived on the shore. The necropsy also showed that the whale was a 20-year-old male and was mostly healthy when it was hit.
The aquarium noted that male sperm whales can live as long as sixty years and get up to 60 feet long. The site said that people can go see the whale, but they should avoid touching it to prevent the spread of diseases.
“It’s a little alarming, but it’s nature, so it’s interesting,” Kay Schilliam, who visited the whale on the shore, told FOX12 Oregon.
“This is one of my most exciting days. I’ve dreamed about seeing a whale washed up since childhood,” Amber Limb, another person who went to see the whale, said. “I had to take a pause and take it all in before I started taking as many pictures as I could.”
“I thought about the line from Moby Dick. Captain Ahab says a dead whale or a stowed boat, well you have both right here,” Dan Limb, another sightseer said.
Over the weekend, Milstein said it was “40 to 50 feet long,” which is fully grown.
“They are endangered, so they are protected,” he added.
“It is a bit unusual to see a sperm whale here this time of year, so that’ll be one of the questions you know, we’re asking,” Milstein said. “Does this help us understand the population and distribution of sperm whales off the West Coast?”
This isn’t the first time that ocean wildlife has come up on the shores of the United States. Just recently, on Wednesday, a female orca came ashore on a beach in Florida. The orca was a female, measuring at 21 feet long. Authorities said the orca had probably died because of “various illnesses.”
In New Jersey and New York, seven deceased whales washed up over the course of several weeks. Their deaths were also being investigated.