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Dead whale is buried in Duxbury as researchers try to find cause of death

Linda Lory, a senior biologist with the New England Aquarium, took measurements and photos of the whale.Debee Tlumacki for The Boston Globe

DUXBURY — A 52-foot-long whale that washed ashore on Duxbury Beach on Monday morning has been buried, officials said.

The cause of the whale’s death has yet to be determined, according to Jennifer Goebel, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“It’s too soon to tell,” she said.

A team of experts from the New England Aquarium collected tissue samples from the carcass for testing. It could take “weeks to months” to figure out what killed the whale, Goebel said.

The carcass of the young adult fin whale was first spotted floating in the water on Sunday, she said.


“They believe it had been dead for a few days,” she said.

Dead whales that wash ashore are typically moved and buried in an area above the high tide line, she said.

The carcass on Duxbury Beach was divided up into smaller pieces that could be dragged off the beach, and an excavator was used to move the remains, according to Cris Luttazi, executive director of Duxbury Beach Reservation, the private nonprofit that owns the beach.

The carcass was ultimately buried 20 feet deep in an area on the bay side of the beach, Luttazi said.

Luttazi said many curiosity-seekers showed up at the beach to get a glimpse of the carcass, which weighed 29.8 tons.

“Folks were very interested,” she said.

Although it was an unfortunate event, Luttazi said, it was educational and made more people aware of fin whales, which are also known as finbacks.

The fin whale, the second-largest species of whale, is listed as endangered. Vessel strikes are the species’ biggest threat, according to the NOAA.

NOAA officials are reminding anyone who sees a marine animal that is dead, stranded, or appears to be in distress to call its hot line at 866-755-6622.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.