ASSATEAGUE ISLAND, Md. — A deceased 20-foot long humpback whale washed ashore on the Assateague barrier island and its body was found this week according to officials with the National Parks Service.
The humpback whale was found on the morning of Jan. 16 in the Maryland Over-sand Vehicle Area of the island where cars are allowed to pass on the beach with a permit.
Assateague Island interpretation and education chief Liz Davis said it's a fairly unusual occurrence.
"That said, we do see a dead whale washed ashore every few years," she said.
There were no immediately obvious signs of what caused the death, according to the National Park Service.
A necropsy was planned this week by staff from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the National Aquarium.
The whale is scheduled to be moved into the dunes after the necropsy, and it will be allowed to dry out before it's eventually buried.
All parts of the whale are protected under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, and collecting any part of the animal is prohibited.
Visitors should stay at a distance from the whale, said NPS officials.
This story was originally published by Scripps station WMAR in Baltimore, Maryland, with updates from Scripps News.