A dead 79-foot endagered blue whale that recently washed up on a beach in Bolinas died due of blunt force trauma suffered during a boat strike, officials said Saturday.
Following a necropsy, a team of scientists determined that the adult female whale sustained broken ribs, a fractured spine and trauma to her skull, according to the Marine Mammal Center. Those wounds are "indicative of significant blunt force trauma that is consistent with ship strikes."
"It is a tragedy that this whale’s story ended due to vessel collision,” Barbie Halaska, a research scientist at the Marine Mammal Center, said in a statement. "These types of examinations have enabled the scientific community to make recommendations for slower shipping speeds and route changes, and hopefully that will help future whales."
Ship strikes are a leading cause of whale deaths, according to the Marine Mammal Center.
This particular whale was first identified in 1999 swimming off the California coast. She spent most of her time in and around the Santa Barbara Channel area. Two to three years ago, she was spotted swimming with a calf.
Blues whales are currently listed on the Endangered Species Act, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.