A 50-foot dead sperm whale washed up on a beach in Pacifica Tuesday, the Marine Mammal Center said.
The center said the whale stranded at Mori Point on the south end of Sharp Park State Beach in Pacifica. A team from the Marine Mammal Center assessed the animal along with biologists from the California Academy of Sciences after receiving an alert Tuesday, and confirmed it to be dead upon arrival. The whale was found in an emaciated state.
Photographs sent by NBC Bay Area viewer Alyssa Castro-Roxas show the whale's decomposing body lying on the beach with a necropsy team setting up a perimeter around it.
Marine biologists believe the whale is an adult male. A team comprising of veterinarians, biologists and researchers will be performing a necropsy Wednesday to determine the whale's age, class and sex.
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There is no obvious sign of trauma on the whale's body, the center said.
The Marine Mammal Center has responded to 17 stranded sperm whales in its 40-year history, but has never cared for any live sperm whale. Center scientists found over 450 pounds of trash in the stomach of a 51-foot adult male sperm whale that washed ashore in Point Reyes in 2008, which they say caused its death.
Sperm whales are found year-round in Calfornia waters, but they reach peak abundance from April through mid-June and from the end of August through mid-November, according to rhe center. Sperm whales are not that frequenly sighted due to their diving behaviors but can be visible by boat offshore.
Photograph courtesy Alyssa Castro-Roxas.