December 15, 2015

UPDATED: No cause of death found for whale washed up on Hatteras beach

A 33-foot-long male, juvenile humpback whale was found dead in the surf on the beach yesterday morning, Dec. 14, near the southern tip of Hatteras Island on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

A necropsy performed on the animal on Monday afternoon did not pinpoint a cause of death, according to Michelle Havens, the seashore's chief of natural resources.

Havens said the whale was found about seven-tenths of a mile south of Ramp 55 near the ferry docks in Hatteras village.

On Monday afternoon, National Park Service staff members worked with NOAA's Marine Mammal Stranding Network, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, and the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries to do a necropsy on the whale carcass on the beach.

As pieces of the whale were being removed and examined, Havens said, they were being buried on the beach.

The necropsy, Havens reported today, was completed in the late afternoon and all parts of the animal were buried.  According to a Park Service biotechnician who was among those conducting the necropsy, tissue and blood samples were taken and will be analyzed.

The necropsy also revealed an advanced state of decomposition indicating that the whale had been dead for some time.

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