A massive whale that washed up along the Mendocino Coast south of Fort Bragg Monday evening likely was struck by a hydrographic vessel earlier in the day.
The vessel reported hitting a whale about seven miles off the coast of Fort Bragg Monday afternoon, said Joe Cordaro, a marine biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
"It's more than a coincidence," he said Tuesday.
Whale Discovered In Mendocino
The dead whale has a gash in its back that a Coast Guard official estimated was more than 8-feet long.
Cordaro did not have information on the vessel that collided with a whale but expects its crew to submit a report within two days, as required by law.
While it was unclear Monday night whether the whale was alive, it was obvious Tuesday morning that the huge mammal — estimated to be more than 70-feet long — was dead, said Larry Wagner, who lives on the bluffs overlooking a cove where the carcass is located.
Both Wagner and Cordaro believe it's a blue whale, the largest of all mammals.
Humboldt State University officials will be sending students from its marine program to evaluate the whale, Cordaro said.
A member of the Marine Mammal Center in Marin County tried to find and evaluate the whale Monday night but was unable to locate it, said spokesman Jim Oswald.
The ocean inlet where it's located is inaccessible, so all the Humboldt State students may be able to do is estimate its size from the overlooking cliffs, Cordaro said.