CAPE CHARLES, Va. (Delmarva Now) -- A necropsy has been performed on a deceased juvenile humpback whale that washed ashore on the beach of Kiptopeke State Park near Cape Charles.
"Because this whale was fairly decomposed, we may never get a definitive cause of death on this animal," said Matthew Klepeisz, public relations manager for the Virginia Aquarium. "We can, however, tell you that there are some injuries that are consistent with trauma related to interaction with a vessel, but not necessarily a propeller strike."
The 6- to 8-year-old male whale measures about 35 feet and Alex Costidis, stranding coordinator for the Virginia Aquarium's Stranding Response Team, estimates the weight as being anywhere from 15,000-17,000 pounds.
Its death marks the second humpback whale casualty in the lower Chesapeake Bay region in a week. Another deceased humpback surfaced on a beach near the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel on Thursday, Feb. 2, with propeller wounds.
"There are a lot of humpback whales in the waters right now in this area," said Costidis.
However, the team is operating under the assumption that the two whales are not from the same pod, Costidis said.
"Unless we had some kind of photographic evidence from past surveys to match the two together, there's no reason to really believe that," he said.
The team employed the help of a local excavation company, Major Excavation, to help drag the large mammal down the beach and into the park Tuesday. The effort took two tractors and some determination.
"Resources out here are not as abundant as they are in Portsmouth, for example, where the last whale was," said Costidis. "It was really a godsend."
The body will be buried in the state park following the necropsy in a spot where other whales have been buried in the past, according to Costidis.
SEE ALSO: Behind the scenes of a whale necropsy
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