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Rare whale found dead on Matagorda Beach; necropsy planned

By JR Ortega
Dec. 18, 2012 at 6:18 a.m.
Updated Dec. 19, 2012 at 6:19 a.m.

Volunteers perform a necropsy on a baleen whale that washed up on Matagorda beach.

About baleen whales

• Baleen whales can be found in all oceans.

• Most baleen whales migrate often between polar and tropical feeding areas during summer and winter.

Source: seaworld.org

An animal not known to inhabit the Texas Gulf Coast was found washed ashore Tuesday morning on Matagorda Beach.

The rare find was a dead 43-foot baleen whale.

The mammal, whose specific species is still unknown, is part of the large baleen whale family, said Heidi Whitehead, executive director of the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network in Galveston.

The network will investigate with a full necropsy Wednesday morning, Whitehead said.

"It does have some decomposition setting in," she said. "We pulled it up on shore so the tide wouldn't wash it out."

The last large whale washing ashore was about two years ago - a fin whale - found on Mustang Island, Whitehead said. Fin whales fall under the baleen whale family.

"We usually see dolphins and smaller whales, both alive and dead," she said. "It's definitely rare for a large whale to come ashore on the Texas Coast."

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