The carcass of a rare species of dolphin washed up on the shore of Haida Gwaii in B.C. this weekend. 

Two local residents discovered a female Risso's dolphin washed up on a beach Feb. 20. The species is found worldwide in warmer climates but is rarely sighted in Canadian waters.

A pair of researchers from the Vancouver Aquarium and the B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network were on the island and helped drag the 3.3-metres long animal away from shore. 

The researchers performed a necropsy two days later. 

"Marine mammals act as sentinels for our oceans. Not only does a necropsy and sample collection help us understand the individual's health, but it also provides information about the health of the marine environment," said Caitlin Birdsall of the B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network. 

The cause of death was not immediately determined. Researchers collected samples from blubber, organ and fluid for further testing. 

The skeleton will be cleaned and later displayed at a local site.