Dead fin whale near Ocean City

An adult male fin whale washed up dead about three miles south of the Ocean City beach approach last night, a rare occurrence for a whale usually found in deep waters.

A team from Cascadia Research Collective was on the scene Thursday afternoon working on a necropsy of the animal, but biologists believe the whale was struck by a ship and killed.

“That’s currently our primary initial determination of the cause of death of this animal, pending other results. But it did have pretty extensive blunt force trauma,” research biologist John Calambokidis said.

The 68-foot whale was first reported on the beach at about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. Fin whales are common in this area, but Calambokidis said he’s only seen about 12 washed up like this in as many years.

“They generally feed in off-shore waters, so you generally wouldn’t see them closer than about 40 or 50 miles off shore,” he said.

The species is considered “highly vulnerable to ship strikes,” Calambokidis said. Another fin whale was found dead on a Burien beach in April, and was also believed to have been killed by a ship, according to reports from The Associated Press.

Fin whales are the second largest species of whale, just smaller than the blue whale.