FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. - Jan. 29 update: The FWC says it will bury a whale deep in the sand at Fernandina Beach after it washed ashore.
Scientists are taking a closer look at why the whale washed ashore Sunday.
Wildlife crews flipped the whale over Monday and took a number of samples, including blood and blubber, to determine what caused the 30-foot juvenile male humpback whale's death.
Team members say humpback whales have been dying in unusually high numbers along the east coast.
While examining the whale, scientists are looking for signs of entanglement, ship strikes, and disease.
“Many of them have been caused by ship strikes and some have been undetermined," NOAA officer Claire Surrey-Marsden said. "We’re going to look very closely to make sure this animal may or may not have been the same cause of death.”
Neighbors who gathered at the beach Monday were anxious to learn what happened to the whale.
“I’m really curious because the said sharks attacked it, but that was after it died. I just want to know what’s going on,” Lauren Hodges said.
Researchers say it could be weeks before all tests are back and the can make a final call on cause.
The whale will be buried near the area where it washed ashore, under 10 feet of sand.
If you ever find a whale stranded on the beach contact 1-877- WHALE HELP (1-877-942-5343)
@BethANjax is at Fernandina Beach as crews work to bury the whale.
A lot of people out here taking a look at the whale. FWC is asking everyone to keep their distance and DO NOT TOUCH. pic.twitter.com/Mz6VBg26ZS— Beth Rousseau (@BethANJax) January 29, 2018
They’ve flipped the whale overs FWC tells me they’ll be taking a number of samples including blood and blubber. It could be weeks before they know what caused his death. @ActionNewsJax @WOKVNews pic.twitter.com/HahJFRlpwI— Beth Rousseau (@BethANJax) January 29, 2018
A whale that washed ashore in Fernandina Beach shows signs of shark scavenging, according to a marine biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.
The whale is a 30-foot juvenile male humpback, NOAA officer Claire Surrey-Marsden said.
Adult humpbacks can reach as much as 60 feet in length, FWC Marine Biologist Nadia Gordon says.
Gordon said she and representatives from several other conservation agencies will do a necropsy Monday to determine the cause of death.
Surrey-Marsden said it may take several weeks to determine a final cause of death, but they will be looking for signs of human interaction.
Sharks are a natural predator and will feed on whales, Gordon said.
Surrey-Marsden said along the East Coast, there have been an unusual number of humpback whales dying.
"Several of them were ship strikes, determined cause of death from boat propellors or different interaction with ships and the others were undetermined," Surrey-Marsden said.
The humpback is too big to move so will be left on the beach overnight. FWC is hoping onlookers will not disturb the carcass.
Surrey-Marsden said the whale is tied up so it doesn't wash back into the ocean.
"We will almost always bury it very deep or we'll have it removed from the beach and have it brought to a landfill," Surrey-Marsden said.
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