A dozen scientists conducting a necropsy Thursday on a blue whale carcass that washed ashore Wednesday off the coast of Daly City found multiple skull fractures, which they say are indicative of blunt force trauma, but a definitive cause of death has not yet been determined.
The specimen has been confirmed as a sub-adult male blue whale measuring roughly 65 feet. The carcass was significantly degraded, according to the Marine Mammal Center.
"This was a rare opportunity to examine an endangered blue whale, the largest animal on earth, and acquire solid base line information to share with our scientific partners," Marine Mammal Center researcher Barbie Halaska said Thursday evening in a statement.
Scientists from the Marin Headlands-based center, the San Francisco-based California Academy of Sciences, the Noyo Center from Fort Bragg and the University of California at Davis met this afternoon at a beach near Daisaku Ikeda Canyon where the carcass lies.
They collected tissue samples, including blubber and the pelvic bone.
The blue whale, a species that is endangered, was spotted at about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday roughly a quarter-mile from the Daly City shoreline. It drifted closer to shore as the day went on, Marine Mammal Center spokesman Giancarlo Rulli said.