Ocean Beach Whale's Burial Plan

Tuesday, Sep 21, 2010  |  Updated 5:45 PM PDT
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Photos: Whale Washes Up on Ocean Beach

Joe Rosato Jr.

The whale was decaying badly meaning it had been dead for awhile.

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A 50-foot whale that could be a member of an endangered species is  being buried at San Francisco's Ocean Beach after its body washed  onshore on Monday morning, a spokesman for the National Park Service said.

      The whale was spotted at about 7 a.m. Monday at Ocean Beach just  north of Lawton Street, park service spokesman George Durgerian said.
     
Authorities believe the animal is either a fin whale, which is an  endangered species, or a sei whale, and DNA tests are being done to  conclusively determine the species.
     
Jim Oswald, spokesman for the Sausalito-based Marine Mammal  Center, said scientists from the center took tissue and skin samples Monday.  The DNA results will not come back for at least a couple of months.
     
The whale was badly decomposed when it was found, preventing  authorities from conclusively determining its cause of death, but Durgerian  said the animal had a slash along its back that "may indicate it was hit by a  propeller" or another part of a vessel.
     
"Whether it hit it post-mortem or if it was alive is yet  undetermined," he said.
     
The cause of death will likely not be determined, though, because  crews spent most of today digging a 50-foot grave at the beach that the whale  carcass will be moved into, hopefully by the end of the day, Durgerian said.
     
The whale was the second found dead in the Bay Area in the past  week.
     
On Thursday, a whale carcass was dragged into the Port of Oakland  by a container ship.
     
The animal, believed to be a minke whale, appeared to have been  struck outside of the San Francisco Bay and dragged in on the bow of the  ship.
     
Investigators believe the whale might have been dead before it was  hit, based on what appear to be shark bite marks on it, according to the U.S.  Coast Guard.
    

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