Dead whale washes ashore in Point Reyes

December 30, 2011 2:08:09 PM PST
High tides are preventing scientists from reaching a dead whale that washed up in a remote part of the Point Reyes National Seashore earlier this week.

The Minke whale, which researchers think might be a female, was reported on Tuesday in an area near Alamere Falls, said Marine Mammal Center spokesman Jim Oswald.

A team from the California Academy of Sciences and the Marine Mammal Center attempted to reach the whale on Thursday, but the carcass was too far out in the water and the tide was too high, Oswald said. In addition, it was in an advanced state of decomposition, he said.

The scientists had hoped to conduct a necropsy to determine the whale's cause of death, and take tissue and blubber samples for analysis, as well as measurements. The information would help researchers learn more about the species and about conditions for whales, Oswald said.

Without the necropsy, researchers cannot say if the whale died of natural causes or other causes such as a ship strike or entanglement.

Given the height of the surf and the condition of the whale, it is unlikely researchers will make another attempt to reach the carcass, Oswald said.


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