Rarely seen pygmy sperm whale washes ashore at Sonoma County beach

SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- The Marine Mammal Center reported that a dead female pygmy sperm whale washed ashore Sunday morning at North Salmon Creek Beach in Sonoma County.

After performing a necropsy, officials say the whale was 8 feet long and was pregnant.

RELATED: Dead humpback whale washes ashore at San Francisco's Baker Beach

"The Center has only responded to three other pygmy sperm whales in our 45-year history as it's rare to see a pygmy sperm whale wash ashore," said Barbie Halaska, Necropsy Manager at The Marine Mammal Center. "They are a deep diving, toothed whale species. The animal infrequently breaches the ocean's surface unlike humpback and gray whales along the California coast."

Officials are still investigating what caused the whale to wash ashore and likely won't have answers until they receive the results from the necropsy.

"We are most interested in discovering whether the animal died from a ship strike or entanglement, both human-caused fatalities that our research can help us understand how to prevent," said Halaska. "We also have seen whales that died due to malnutrition or entanglement in fishing gear."

The remains of the whale will be left to decompose naturally on North Salmon Creek Beach.

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