"This is another dramatic example of negative human impact on marine mammals. The spine of this whale was completely fractured as a result of a ship strike and it is very sad that this animal's life came to an end in this manner."
-- Dr. Frances Gulland, senior scientist at the Marine Mammal Center in Marin
The quote is in reference to a 47-foot fin whale that washed ashore Thursday south of Wildcat Beach in the Point Reyes National Seashore, after being struck by a ship.
Biologists on Friday identified the mammal as a juvenile male fin whale. They also discovered wounds that are consistent with a ship strike.
Fin whales, which are the planet's second largest whales and can reach lengths of about 80 feet, are a federally endangered species.
A small number of fin whales and blue whales (the largest whale species) are killed each year by ships.
Tissue samples were extracted and biologists are hoping the tide will carry the carcass back to sea.
For more on this story view the Mercury News article, which was posted Tuesday on the newspaper's website.
-- Image showing the dead fin whale and an onlooker is courtesy of the National Park Service