A spokesperson for the New England Aquarium, Tom LaCasse, who was sent to examine the whale, said that the death of the enormous mammal was so far a mystery, but that it showed signs of massive trauma.
“We don’t know,” he said. “We’ve only been able to look at a small portion of the body so far.”
“LaCasse said the animal likely died because of one of three scenarios: natural causes, disease, or a unique medical problem, such as being struck by a vessel or becoming entangled in netting.”
“He said a large amount of blood in the water surrounding the whale and marks on its body may indicate trauma. But he added that it is unclear whether the possible trauma took place before or after the animal died.”
So far, the age of the whale is unknown, but officials will be conducting tests on the samples that they have taken from the animal, and a necropsy is planned.
“LaCasse said adult finback whales weigh on average between 70,000 and 90,000 pounds. The species can grown to an average length of between 45 and 70 feet, according to the Whale Center of New England.”
“It’s not rare to see a whale in the Boston Harbor, but it’s rare to see a dead whale in the Boston Harbor,” said Brian Fleming, command duty officer at the US Coast Guard Base Boston. “The majority of these cases happen out to sea.”
The whale was spotted by Massachusetts State Police marine officials early in the morning, around 3 a.m. near the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal. The Coast Guard then brought some New England Aquarium rescue team members to the whale to examine it.
LaCasse noted that the whale floated to within “a couple hundred yards of the shore of Long Island in Boston Harbor at about 3:30 p.m. Sunday, but the tide carried it back into the harbor.”
Authorities will need to wait for the massive carcass to wash up on the shore to examine it in detail and then dispose of it.
“Fleming said that about three or four live whales are sighted in Boston Harbor per year.”