Fisheries and Oceans Canada says early signs point to blunt force trauma killing a whale that washed up on the Sunshine Coast Wednesday.
The DFO's marine mammal coordinator, Paul Cottrell, said it appears the animal was struck while alive and died some time after, according to results from a necropsy.
"It's consistent with a vessel strike, but sometimes animal-animal aggression can cause trauma as well," Cottrell told On The Coast guest host Chris Brown.
"We'll be looking at the extent of the trauma in terms of the surface area of the body and we're also doing a CAT scan of the skull of the animal to look for any fractures as well to get a sense of the intensity of the blunt force trauma."
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Cottrell said vessel strikes usually kill larger whales, like humpbacks and fins, but they kill orcas as well.
The whale was J-34, a male born in 1998 and nicknamed Double Stuf.
J-34 was part of J-pod, which experienced a baby boom of eight calves in 2015.
It's one of three pods that make up the southern resident killer whale population, and it is comprised of approximately 80 members.
The southern resident killer whales have lost at least five members this year, and Cottrell said DFO is looking at what can be done to reduce human-caused whale deaths.
With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast
To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Orca found on Sunshine Coast died of blunt force trauma, DFO says