The carcass of a beached humpback whale that washed up on a White Rock, B.C., beach will be taken to the Whale Interpretive Centre at Telegraph Cove, on northern Vancouver Island. 

The young whale's emaciated remains are anchored off the beach, south of Vancouver, and will be moved once the transport details are ironed out.

The Telegraph Cove educational facility is planning to display the whale after it has been allowed to decompose in the ocean.

The severely emaciated young whale, wrapped in fishing line, was first spotted as water receded from the sandy, tidal flats early Tuesday morning.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans marine mammal co-ordinator Paul Cottrell said the eight- to-10-metre long juvenile died just hours after beaching itself.

"It had been struggling for a long time and likely hadn't been eating for a long time," Cottrell said.

"There may be other underlying issues regarding the animal's health, as well as the fishing gear," said Cottrell. "It had been towing it, it was through it's mouth."

Efforts are underway to identify the gear, in hopes of determining where and when the roughly three-year-old whale became entangled.

Vancouver Aquarium staff have also taken various samples from the remains to check for other causes of death, but say the whale's condition suggests it starved after being tangled for some time.

Identifying the whale

Cottrell said experts will try to identify the whale from the patterns on its tail fluke.

"That's kind of a fingerprint we have to see where the animal is from. We'll be taking DNA samples as well as other samples ... and hopefully we will be able to determine the individual animal because there is a photo ID catalogue with tail fluke patterns."

If the animal can be identified, Cottrell said they may be able to tell where it has been in the past.

Cottrell said the fish netting was collected after being cut off the whale and it can also be tracked to identify the owner, although he noted that this appears to be a case of accidental entanglement.

Information about how the whale was entangled will also be used to determine future threats to the recovery of humpback whales off the B.C. coast.

The whales are listed as threatened under Canada's Species at Risk Act, but have become a more  common sight in the last few years in B.C. waters.

Cottrell said this wasn't the first time a humpback has been caught in fishing gear on the B.C. coast, this year.

He said rescuers managed to cut away the ropes of a prawn trap from an exhausted whale in Knight Inlet, southwest of Port Hardy, B.C., about three weeks ago.