One day after a fin whale died on Stinson Beach and was buried at the beach after a necropsy was performed, the popular swimming and surfing destination has been shut down for five days after a great white shark was spotted in the area, National Park Service officials said Tuesday.
The young whale calf, estimated to be about a year old, was reported to Marin County Parks around 7 a.m. on Monday on the north side of Stinson Beach near Upton Beach, Chief Park Ranger Rob Ruiz said. The whale, estimated to be about 40 feet long, was found thrashing on its side. The whale was pronounced dead around 10 a.m., according to Ruiz.
At around 3 p.m., a great white shark that was at least 10 feet long was spotted near the area where a fin whale had been stranded, agency officials said. The sighting caused the agency to issue a five-day ban on swimming and surfing that went into effect on Monday. People are still allowed to walk on the beach.
It is unclear if the shark injured the whale or if it simply appeared after the whale was stranded on the beach. The center's veterinary team
conducted a necropsy at Stinson Beach to determine the cause of death but has been unable to determine a conclusive cause yet, Harle said.
Blood was found around the whale's mouth and once the whale was rolled over, the center's Director of Veterinary Science Dr. Shawn Johnson, discovered trauma to the sternum area and internal hemorrhaging around the heart, Harle said.
Air was also present in the subcutaneous tissue, between the muscle and the fat, which is indicative of trauma, according to Harle.
Until further microscopic examination of the tissue is conducted, scientists at the center said they are unable to determine the cause of the whale's death.
This is the center's fourth case involving a beached fin whale since 2010, Harle said.
Two of those whales died after being struck by boats, according to Harle.
The National Park Service buried the fin whale at Stinson Beach to decompose on Monday evening, Harle said.
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