Scientists are examining whether a dead sperm whale found floating 77 miles away from the Deepwater Horizon spill site was poisoned by the oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico since the rig exploded on April 20.
NOAA said this was the first dead whale reported since the BP rig explosion. However, it noted that the dead whale was not found in oiled waters.
The carcass was badly decomposed and is believed to have been preyed upon by sharks while it was floating in the water for several days. Marine mammal experts will now try to figure out the location from which the whale carcass may have drifted.
Both NOAA and the Unified Command Wildlife Branch have received several reports of sperm whales swimming in the area of the oi spilll. In a statement, NOAA expressed concern about sperm whales, which it notes are the only endangered resident cetaceans in the upper Gulf of Mexico.
"Sperm whales spend most of their time in the upper Gulf offshore area, live at depth in areas where subsurface dispersants and oil are present, and feed on deepwater squid, which may also be impacted by the oil and dispersants," NOAA said.
Charles Cooper is an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet. E-mail Charlie.