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Fifth Dead Whale In 3 Weeks Washes Ashore NorCal Beach

PACIFICA (CBS SF) -- Biologists determined a female juvenile humpback whale that washed ashore in Pacifica Tuesday was likely hit by a ship.

Laura Sherr with the Marine Mammal Center says the beached whale, the fifth dead whale to wash ashore a Northern California beach in three weeks, had 4 broken bones with hemorrhaging and a broken rib.

The 32-foot-long whale was first spotted by the U.S. Coast Guard late Monday at the southern end of the beach, according to the Marine Mammal Center.

The whale was found not far from where a dead 48-foot male sperm whale washed ashore on April 14, on Mori Point at the southern end of the beach.  Marine Mammal Center officials said they believed it was a coincidence that two whale strandings occurred on the same beach within the same month.

Several days later, a killer whale also beached itself north of Fort Bragg. Researchers flocked to the Mendocino coast to investigate the rare occurrence. However, they aren't expected to come to any conclusions as to why the 25-foot creature came ashore to die.

Then on April 24,  two gray whale carcasses washed up on a a Santa Cruz County beach.

A 40-foot adult gray whale was found near Waddell Beach. There was no evidence of a ship strike in his death and researchers said it had likely been dead for days.

The second 23-foot yearling found at Pajaro Dunes had killer whale teeth marks on its body and was missing its tongue and jaw. Researchers said its death was likely the result of an orca attack.

The center has responded to 21 humpback whales over the past 40 years, including the famous Humphrey, who became lost in the San Francisco Bay in 1985 and 1990.

Sperm whale strandings are relatively rare, with only 17 reported to the center in the past 40 years. The last one prior to this year was found in 2008 in Point Reyes and was determined to have died after swallowing more than 450 pounds of garbage.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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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