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Whale floating in Boston Harbor washes up on island

Boat captain Steve Leuchte stood next to a dead finback whale on Rainsford Island on Tuesday.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Boat captain Steve Leuchte stood next to a dead finback whale on Rainsford Island on Tuesday.

The finback whale that has been floating dead in Boston Harbor for several days washed ashore this morning on Rainsford Island, off the coast of Hull.

New England Aquarium veterinarians are en route to examine the animal, according to Tony LaCasse, an aquarium spokesman. They hope to do a necropsy to determine what killed the animal, but Rainsford Island, a small island between Long Island and Peddocks Island, does not have a dock, making logistics difficult when dealing with such a large creature.

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A necropsy requires substantial equipment, and removal involves truckloads filled with blubber. One option is to bury the animal on site.

LaCasse said that because the beach has steep terrain, it might slip back out to sea

Adult finback whales are the second largest animals on the planet, and can grow to 70 feet in length and easily weigh 100,000 pounds, according to LaCasse. The goal of the necropsy is to determine if the animal died of natural causes, or perhaps a boat collision or entanglement in fishing line.

The whale carcass was the first spotted in Boston Harbor in recent memory. Whale sightings in the harbor are rare, usually three or four a year.

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