A juvenile 40-foot male Fin whale that washed up on a Malibu beach died of injuries from a boat strike, according to preliminary necropsy results.
The necropsy, which is the term for an autopsy performed on an animal, was performed late Tuesday afternoon, Cindy Reyes, executive director of the California Wildlife Center, said in an email to Malibu Patch.
"The traumatic injury that we discovered is consistent with a ship strike," Reyes said. "We have taken a number of tissue samples to send in for analysis as well so we will know more when those come back."
The Fin whale was discovered about 11 a.m. Monday at Little Dume, which is among the more exclusive beaches in Malibu. Reyes and others initially observed a large bump on the whale's back, but a necropsy was required to determine if the swelling was from gases or traumatic injuries from a ship strike.
The whale is wedged between rocks on the beach, and will likely be difficult to remove, Reyes said earlier in the week. It will be up to the Los Angeles County Lifeguards to decide if they will be able to tow the decomposing whale out to sea.
Fin whales, which are endangered, are fairly common at this time of year off the coast of California. They grow in length to 75 to 80 feet and can live for up to 80 to 90 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The port of Long Beach is among the busiest ports on the West Coast. NOAA scientists have been tracking where shipping lanes and whale movements overlap.