An endangered humpback whale was found dead on one of North Carolina’s barrier islands last month, and some of its parts will be permanently displayed at a park in the state.
The 31-foot whale was discovered on North Core Banks, inside Cape Lookout National Seashore, on Dec. 28.
Cape Lookout National Seashore said in a Jan. 10 press release that a state marine mammal stranding network team arrived at the beach on Dec. 29 to inspect the whale and conduct a stranding report, which tracks the animal’s species and reports on any necropsy results. While a necropsy was performed and samples were taken, no cause of death has been released.
The marine mammal stranding network team also helped collect parts of the whale that will later be on public display at a North Carolina park.
“The team also assisted the park in collecting one of the whale’s front flippers and a 4-foot-long section of baleen from the whale’s mouth to be processed and eventually used in an exhibit at the Harkers Island Visitor Center,” Cape Lookout National Seashore wrote.
A photograph shared by the park on Facebook shows a park biologist lying next to the flipper to demonstrate its length. According to officials, the flipper measured 13 feet and weighed in at 311 pounds.
This humpback whale was the second one discovered at a beach in North Carolina in December.
A 30-foot humpback was found beached on Dec. 5 on Hatteras Island at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, located just north of Cape Lookout. A necropsy was also performed on this whale, but officials have not released a cause of death.
All species of humpbacks are labeled as endangered in U.S. waters, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Experts say the most common causes of death in humpbacks are fishing gear entanglement and being struck by vessels.
Humpbacks can weigh up to 40 tons and reach 60 feet long. They can also live as long as 90 years.