An 18-foot minke whale was found dead in Barnstable Harbor near Millway Marina Sunday morning, officials said.

The whale was originally spotted Saturday afternoon and monitored by the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Barnstable harbormaster, said Michael Booth, a spokesman for fund. The whale was originally seen in the harbor in open water with the ability to swim, so a team from the fund did not make a rescue attempt, Booth said.

On Sunday, the animal was found dead near the marina.

Booth said that the fund was trying to get permission to perform a necropsy on the stranded animal to determine its cause of death, but that it could be days before the results were available. He said he expected the carcass would be removed from the harbor some time on Monday.


Though the whale has been left in the harbor since it was discovered Sunday morning, Booth said it poses no health or safety concerns, though it could if it were left in the water for an extended period of time.

Booth said incidents like this are relatively unusual.

"It is a unique event to have a large baleen whale like an 18-foot minke whale strand," Booth said. "It doesn't happen every day, but I wouldn't say it's completely out of the blue."

Booth said the local fund team, which covers the shoreline from Plymouth to the Rhode Island border, responds to about 300 to 500 stranded animals per year.

Kiera Blessing can be reached at kiera.blessing@globe.com.