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PORTSMOUTH (AP) - Researchers say a whale that died in the Elizabeth River had ingested a piece of plastic that perhaps prevented it from eating.

A necropsy performed Friday also found a large hematoma suggesting the 45-foot juvenile female sei whale might have been hit by a ship shortly before dying the previous day.

Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center's stranding response coordinator Sue Barco says the rigid piece of plastic measuring about 3 inches by 5 inches was stuck in the whale's stomach chamber and could not pass into its intestines. The whale was thin, and no food was found in its stomach.

The Virginian-Pilot reports that Barco also noticed the hematoma.

Tissue and blood samples might yield more information. The whale will be buried on Craney Island.

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