Humpback whale washes up on San Francisco beach

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SAN FRANCISCO — A severely decomposed young humpback whale washed ashore on a San Francisco beach and experts said Tuesday they were trying to determine how it died.

Dr. Pádraig Duignan, Chief Pathologist at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, said the center was alerted early Tuesday to a dead whale on San Francisco's Baker Beach.

A small team of scientists from the center and California Academy of Sciences performed a partial necropsy on the 37-foot-long (11-meter) whale. Details on what killed the whale won't be available until a final necropsy report is completed, he said.

Officials asked people to stay away from the whale's carcass not only because of shelter-in-place orders due to the coronavirus "but also due to any potential diseases the animal might have that could transmit to people,” Duignan said.

Baker Beach is in the Golden Gate National Recreation Center and after the group of scientists is done with their work, the whale will be buried on site "to reduce its public safety hazard,” National Park Service spokesman Julian Espinoza said in a statement.

Last year, at least a dozen dead whales washed ashore in the San Francisco Bay Area and scientists said they feared it was because the animals were starving and couldn't complete their annual migration from Mexico to Alaska.

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