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Dead 50-Foot Endangered Sperm Whale Washes Ashore At Pacifica Beach

PACIFICA (CBS SF) -- Biologists headed to the San Mateo County coast Wednesday morning to try and determine what killed an endangered sperm whale.

The 50-feet sperm whale was found bleeding from its head and into the water along at Mori Point on the south end of Sharp Park State Beach in Pacifica Tuesday.

On Wednesday, scientists from the Marine Mammal Center and the Academy of Sciences performed a necropsy.

Despite speculation that the animal might have been killed by a ship strike, biologists found no broken bones. There was some hemorrhaging in the muscles, but not enough to clearly indicate blunt force trauma.

Although the whale was emaciated, it had squid beaks in its stomach, which indicates that it had been eating.

Biologists could not determine the whale's exact age, although it is thought to be an adult.

Researchers collected the teeth and tissue samples for further testing and research. The tissue samples were not fresh enough to determine the cause of death, officials said.

It's unknown at this point if they will then leave the decomposing whale ashore or tow it out to sea.

Whale strandings are fairly rare. The center said it does not see many stranded animals of this species, dead or alive, on shore.

sperm whale
A stranded sperm whale turns up on a Pacifica beach on April 14 2015. (Laura Sherr/Marine Mammal Center)

A rare pygmy sperm whale washed ashore at Point Reyes National Seashore in January, later found dead once biologists arrived. Scientists at the Marine Mammal Center identified over 450 pounds of trash found in his stomach causing his death. The trash was used to create the Ghost Net Monster, an art exhibit on display at the Center's headquarters in Sausalito, to teach visitors about the importance of preventing trash from reaching the oceans.

TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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