VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- A necropsy on the right whale found dead off of the coast of Virginia was scheduled for Sunday morning. The whale carcass was taken to the Virginia Beach area on Saturday.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the whale was found dead off the coast near the North Carolina border on Monday. North Atlantic right whales are one of the most endangered marine mammals, and they are coming off a year of high mortality in 2017.
The whale was a young female and was more than 30 feet long, according to a spokesperson for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
NOAA said there are only about 100 females of breeding age in the population.
The spokesperson said the "whale appears to have been wrapped in line in a manner that, based on past observations of entanglements, suggests the whale was alive and swimming when it encountered the line."
Now aquatic conversationalists from up and down the east coast are on a mission to find out exactly how the whale died.
“What we’re doing right now is laying it (the tangled rope) out and figuring out how it was wrapped around the animal, where it went was in the mouth, around the flippers,” said Tom Ptichford. He's a wildlife biologist for Florida Fish and Wildlife.
“And although the animal is dead and we haven’t saved it, it’s still incredibly important and it’s giving us a lot of very valuable information,” said Virginia Aquariums' Susan Barco.
According to the NOAA, preliminary observations suggested the whale died due to the entanglement.
NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement is investigating which could take months.
The Associated Press and Delmarva Now contributed to this article.