Grey whale dissected on Wickaninnish Beach near Tofino
Volunteers cleaned and buried the carcass, which will eventually go on display at the Royal B.C. Museum
Scientists aren't sure why it died, though there is some evidence it was struck by a boat. The 10 metre long gray whale is a yearling and was making its second migration up to Alaskan waters when it died. Researchers took tissue samples from the abdominal and chest cavity of the whale to look at other possible causes.
After that work is done, a team of volunteers will take over dissecting the rest of the carcass, according to Laura Griffith-Cochrane, the curator of the Ucluelet Aquarium.
The results of the necropsy could be back within a few weeks.
The remains will be buried and composted for two years, before the skeleton is re-assembled for display at the Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria
"Very rarely does a whale die and wash up in really good shape. It is sad that it is such a young whale that is not swimming in the ocean, but it was such an incredible learning opportunity," said Griffith-Cochrane.
"We have ten people that are going to take part and sacrifice some of their clothing, because once you get whale smell on it, it is never coming out. I think we are just so lucky that we live in a community that is excited about this sort of thing."
Grey whales were once hunted to the brink of extinction, but are now common off the West Coast during spring months as they migrate from Mexico and California to the cooler waters of Alaska.
- A previous version this story said the whale's skeleton would go on display eventually at the Ucluelet Aquarium. In fact, it will go on display at the Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria.Apr 23, 2015 11:39 AM PT