Minke whale washes up on St. Lawrence shore in Lévis

A veterinarian has taken samples from a small minke whale that washed up on the beach in front of a cottage, but it's still not clear how the animal died.

Unusual for whales to be spotted so far up the river

Veterinarians are still trying to find out why a small male whale died and washed ashore along St. Lawrence. (Alexandre Duval/Radio-Canada)

Veterinarians are still not sure what happened to a small minke whale that washed up on the shore of the St. Lawrence River in the St-Nicholas area of Lévis on Monday afternoon.

Jacques Fortin owns the cottage behind the beach where the carcass came ashore.

"It's something we don't see very often, but at the same time it's very unpleasant," Fortin said.

"It is still a beautiful animal and it is in perfect condition."

This juvenile male whale found on shore in Lévis. Veterinarians are still trying to find out how it died. (Alexandre Duval/Radio-Canada)

Josiane Cabana, a spokesperson for the Réseau québécois d'urgences pour les mammifères marins — an emergency network for marine mammals — said it's unusual to see a whale this far up the St. Lawrence.

She said they rarely swim further than the Charlevoix region.

"It's a young whale and a species that comes to visit us each summer in the St. Lawrence," she said, although most of the minke whales spotted in the river are adult females.

Cabana added the species is not endangered.

A veterinarian team takes samples taken from whale carcass found near Lévis. (Alexandre Duval/Radio-Canada)

Veterinarian Stéphane Lair and a team looked at the carcass this morning and took tissue samples.

He said they will look for contaminants and conduct specific genetic tests as well.

There are no obvious signs of injury on the animal but the cause of death won't be known until a necropsy takes place, he said.

with files from Radio-Canada, Alexandre Duval