Scientists struggling to find out what killed humpback whale that washed ashore

A large humpback whale washed ashore at the Rye Harbor State Park.
A large humpback whale washed ashore at the Rye Harbor State Park. –Jim Davis / The Boston Globe

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Biologists still don’t know what killed a young humpback whale that washed ashore in New Hampshire.

The 45-foot-long whale, named Snow Plow, was discovered June 26 by fishermen who first spotted its corpse floating 20 miles off the shore.

Snow Plow was one of hundreds of whales that scientists had been tracking for years. She’s part of several pods that return to the Gulf of Maine to feed every summer.

As hundreds of onlookers watched, New England Aquarium scientists completed a necropsy Wednesday on the mammal, taking samples from its organs, muscle and other tissue.

The samples have been sent to various labs to see if such a disease, parasites or something else might have killed it. Scientists are working against bad weather, the tides and rapidly decomposing organs.

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