Authorities are scratching their heads after a dead sperm whale washed ashore on an Oregon beach. Now, sightseers are flocking to the beach to see the massive marine mammal at Oregon’s Fort Stevens State Park.
The whale was first spotted near the park’s flagship, Peter Iredale shipwreck. The sperm whale also belongs to an endangered species of marine mammals, according to the Seaside Aquarium in a recent Facebook post. The aquarium also shared a brief video of the beached sperm whale after it was found.
In addition, onlookers also said the whale’s carcass had several “large gashes” found on the whale’s body, which users can see in the video. Experts at the local aquarium say these could be the result of a collision with a vessel.
“[H]owever, it is unclear if this strike occurred before or after death,” the aquarium said in its post. “A necropsy will be scheduled later in the week to take a closer look at this.”
In addition, the post noted that employees at Fort Stevens State Park removed the sperm whale’s lower jaw “so that the teeth remained intact for scientific purposes.” It added that the whale was “believed to be a juvenile male.”
According to Michael Milstein, an official from the NOAA, the deceased sperm whale had reached full maturity. The whale was reported to be 40 to 50 feet in length. However, it wasn’t the whale’s death that baffled officials but the timing of the incident.
“It is a bit unusual to see a sperm whale here this time of year, so that’ll be one of the questions, you know, we’re asking,” he said. “Does this help us understand the population and distribution of sperm whales off the West Coast?”
Sperm whale washes onto Oregon coast as country sees uptick in marine mammal beachings
Now, as people head to the beach to catch a glimpse of the animal, officials continue to warn them not to touch the whale since its carcass could spread diseases to people and their pets.
“It’s a little alarming, but it’s nature, so it’s interesting,” tourist Kay Schilliam told reporters.
Sadly, this creature is just one of many to wash up on U.S. beaches in recent weeks.
Similarly, on Wednesday, a 21-foot female orca washed up on a beach in Palm Coast, Florida. According to officials, the animal’s cause of death was because of “various illnesses.”
Meanwhile, up north in New York and New Jersey, officials were shocked to determine that seven dead whales had washed up on different beaches in a little over a month. These instances are now under investigation.
Per the NOAA, sperm whales are the largest toothed whales on the planet. In addition, some male sperm whales can reach almost 60 feet in length and weigh more than 40 tons.