On Friday, a carcass of a 79-foot-long Blue Whale was found washed up on Agate beach in Bolinas, North California. According to experts, this animal died due to blunt force trauma after being hit by a boat.

Necropsy reveals broken ribs and skull trauma

The necropsy of the adult female whale carried out by the staff of the Marine Mammal Center revealed 10 broken ribs, trauma to the skull, and 10 fractured vertebrae near mid-body and tail. The entire left side of the whale’s body was badly damaged. Scientists removed the liver, stomach, an eye, and some other organs of the animal to determine if the animal had high toxin levels, whether it was suffering from any disease, and other facts related to the creature.

Experts identified this particular blue whale as the one that was seen swimming off the California coast in in 1999. She used to spend most of her time around the Santa Barbara Channel area. In 2014, she was also seen swimming with a calf.

About blue whales

Blue whales are massive mammals that can grow up to 100 feet in length. Even the weight of a blue whale can sometimes be more than the weight of an elephant. These creatures can live more than 80 years. In the United States, they are currently listed as Endangered Species under federal law. During 1800s and 1900s, a large number of whales in the U.S. were killed by whaling, a practice that was eventually banned in 1972. Although populations of gray and humpback whales have increased gradually since then, blue whales are still trying to recover and their populations are growing very slowly.

During the spring season, blue whales swim thousands of miles from Costa Rica and Mexico to reach Oregon, Washington and California coasts in search of krill that make up an important part of their diets.

In a statement, Barbie Halaska of the Marine Mammal Center described the Agate beach incident as tragic. According to Halaska, researchers in the past have made recommendations for slower shipping speeds and a change in routes to avoid such accidents which are fatal for marine animals.

A large number of whales have died in the past due to ship strikes around San Francisco Bay and some other ports in the U.S. In October 2016, a carcass of a 65-foot-long sub-adult male blue whale was found on Westmoor Beach in Daly City, and according to experts, that whale had died due to a skull fracture after being hit by a large ship.

Halaska says some cargo ships are so big that their operators are generally unaware of ship’s collision with large creatures such as a blue whale. Such collisions sometimes slow down the speed of the vessel by one or two knots, but operators are most of the time unable to notice anything.