Blue whale carcass had skull fractures, trauma

A dozen scientists conducting a necropsy today 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.

Marine Mammal Center researcher Barbie Halaska said Thursday evening in a statement:

“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.”

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.