Never before in the 41-year history of the Marine Mammal Center have its experts had occasion to examine a Baird's beaked whale. This week they're doing so, but under unfortunate circumstances: A highly deteriorated, 35-foot-long carcass of one such beaked whale washed up on North Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore, CBS 5 reports. The whale was likely a victim of an all-too-common collision with a ship, as indicated during the necropsy. Its body showed severe hemorrhaging and part of its tail was severed.

According to Bay City News, fewer than a dozen beaked whales have been reported stranded on shorelines across California, Oregon, and Washington. The Marin Independent Journal adds that the beaked whale family, of which the Baird's are the largest member, are at home in the deep channel waters off the continental shelf in the North Pacific ocean.

“Beaked whales are a very interesting family of toothed whales that mostly live off the continental shelf edge, foraging in deep canyons to feed on squid,” Marine Mammal Center Chief Pathologist Dr. Padraig Duignan told the news channel. To perform the necropsy, she worked with 10 other scientists from the center, the California Academy of Sciences, and Point Reyes National Seashore. “The opportunity to perform a necropsy on such a unique animal that we rarely have the opportunity to examine will help contribute to our baseline data on the species.”

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