Authorities are looking into the death of a whale that was spotted right off the beach in Pass Christian Saturday morning.
After originally believing it to be a Rice’s whale – an endangered species native to the Gulf of Mexico – the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies later announced that it was, in fact, a fin whale.
Fin whales, unlike Rice’s whales, are migratory creatures found all across the globe. Fin whales are the second-largest whale species, second only to the blue whale, and are considered endangered under the Endangered Species Act. They get their name from an easy-to-spot fin near their tail.
“After extensive efforts, we were able to safely move the deceased whale out of the water and onto the beach. Once out of the water, we have a better understanding of the species, it is a Fin whale,” IMMS wrote on Facebook. “We will continue to work with our partners (local and federal) to better understand its cause of death.”
The initial necropsy was performed Sunday morning with officials now awaiting lab results.
Since 2002, there have been only three fin whales stranded in the Gulf of Mexico. Just last week, a dead dolphin washed ashore the same beach in Pass Christian.