Death of Whale on Cape Cod Under Investigation

Researchers are working to determine what killed a whale on Cape Cod.

The beached whale was reported before 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in Sandwich, Massachusetts, where the marine animal's remnants could be seen on the sand. Wednesday morning, 30 people from six different groups started looking into what could have killed the whale.

Officials with International Fund for Animal Welfare said the 40-ton, 45-foot female whale, named Vector by researchers, was known to the area and had been spotted annually since 1984. She had five documented calves.

"We're seeing elevated levels of humpback whale strandings and deaths across the East Coast, so we want to make sure that we rule everything out first before we say that she was just an old animal," said Ainsley Smith of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NOAA says there are an average of eight humpback whale deaths per year. In 2017, there were 34. Last year, 25 died. Vector brings the total to 10 so far in 2019.

Since 2016, NOAA says 14 humpback whales have been found dead in Massachusetts.

Researchers had a chance to look inside the whale's stomach and they say there were no signs it swallowed a lot of plastic. Tissue from the whale is being sent to a lab, and the investigation into the cause of death is ongoing.

Dozens of people made their way to the area to check out the sight.

"It's pretty amazing. It was really big and I think they got a kick out of it," said Holli Wong, who took her children to see the whale.

"It's massive. You don't realize because they look so beautiful. Until you get right next to them, you don't realize how big they are," added Danielle Trivou.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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