Dead sperm whale discovered on Pacifica beach 

click to enlarge sperm whale
  • Denise Craig/California Academy of Sciences
  • Initial assessments by The Marine Mammal Center and the California Academy of Sciences of a standard sperm whale that washed ashore in Pacifica on Tuesday.

Marine biologists will perform a necropsy today on a sperm whale found washed up on a Pacifica beach Tuesday, a Marine Mammal Center spokeswoman said.

The sperm whale was discovered at Mori Point on the Pacifica coast. It was already dead by the time biologists from the center and the California Academy of Sciences arrived, Marine Mammal Center spokeswoman Laura Sherr said today.

A necropsy is scheduled for later this morning to determine how the whale died.

Such findings are fairly rare. Only 17 stranded sperm whales have been found in the 40-year history of the Marine Mammal Center, Sherr said.

The last dead sperm whale the center responded to was discovered in Point Reyes in 2008. The necropsy revealed it died after swallowing more than 450 pounds of trash, according to the center.

The trash was used to create an art exhibit called the "Ghost Net Monster" on display at the center's Sausalito headquarters to remind visitors to keep trash out of the oceans.

Sperm whales are present off of the California coast year-round but are particularly present from April to mid-June and from the end of August through mid-November. They are not typically visible from shore because of their diving habits, according to the center.

Adult male sperm whales are typically about 52 feet long and weigh about 45 tons. They can grow to be up to 67 feet long.

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