Scientists determine what killed washed-ashore whale on Oregon coast

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A 40-foot sperm whale that washed ashore on the Oregon coast Saturday died after it was hit by a ship, according to a necropsy that was completed Monday.

The necropsy was conducted by scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

According to NOAA spokesperson Michael Milstein, scientists determined the whale died from an impact with a ship because of internal bleeding that showed the animal had been hit.

“The whale then apparently floated a while before washing ashore on Saturday,” Milstein told KOIN 6 News.

The necropsy also revealed that the whale was a male, about 20 years old, and was in generally good health at the time it was struck.

According to the Seaside Aquarium, the whale was dead before it washed ashore in Warrenton.

Male sperm whales can grow to be up to 60 feet and way over 40 tons, the Seaside Aquarium said. They can live for up to 60 years as well, maturing around age 52.

The Seaside Aquarium told beachgoers to feel free to look at the whale, but not to touch it because it could potentially spread disease to humans or pets.