Searching For Cause Of Death For Beached Mammals

After a whale beached itself on the Outer Banks last week, marine mammal experts conducted an animal autopsy, or necropsy, to gain insight into what happened. A necropsy allows scientists to gain vital clues about the cause of death and the health of the animal before it died. The Center for Marine Sciences and Technology in Morehead City conducted the necropsy. Marine biologists say in addition to the beached whale, 1o porpoises have stranded themselves so far this year. That compares to an average of 24 per year. A nine-month-old porpoise was discovered Thursday afternoon near Nags Head. Biologists say the animal was emaciated, likely caused because it had recently left its mother for the first time. Hundreds of samples collected from the animal are sent to specialists. When those results come back, a cause of death is determined. As far as a cause of death for the whale, experts say there is no timetable; it all depends on when the information comes back.