Coast Guard officials say a dead finback whale more than 50 feet in length was found floating in Boston Harbor early Sunday morning.
According to researchers, the fin whale, the second largest animal in the world after the blue whale, probably died of natural causes, disease, or a unique medical problem such as being struck by a vessel or becoming entangled in netting.
“It’s probably likely that this animal probably died outside of the harbor due to natural causes or maybe due to something related to a gear entanglement,” Tony Lacasse of the New England Aquarium told WCVB-TV.
CBS News reports that, after spotting the dead whale, the Coast Guard brought a team of scientists from New England Aquarium in order to take samples from the animal and examine it in a laboratory.
A necropsy was also planned.
In the meantime, officials say they will let the enormous whale float in the harbor until it drifts closer to the shore. WHDH reports that Coast guard boats have been keeping an eye on the animal to ensure vessels don’t collide with the carcass.
“We’re in an area that’s got two and a half million people in a short distance from there and we’re talking about an animal that has got probably 80 to 90 thousand pounds of rotting flesh so we’d have to be very deliberate, you know, in terms of where we would bring that kind of animal ashore,” Lacasse added.
While whale spottings aren’t uncommon in the Boston Harbor — three or four live whales are sighted there per year, according to the Boston Globe — US Coast Guard officials say its extremely rare to see a dead whale in the port, as the majority of those cases happen farther out in the ocean.
ABC has more on the dead whale found in the Boston Harbor below: