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Ship likely killed whale, foundation says

A deceased finback whale that washed ashore Wednesday

A deceased finback whale that washed ashore Wednesday was being examined and removed Thursday by members from a Riverhead foundation. (June 9, 2011) Photo Credit: Jim Staubitser

The 46-foot finback whale that washed up Wednesday on Atlantic Beach likely died when it was struck by a ship, a spokeswoman for a Riverhead marine group said Thursday.

Scientists performing an animal autopsy, or necropsy, Thursday morning determined the whale, a male weighing nearly 30 tons, had been dead about a week, said Kim Durham, rescue coordinator of the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation.

Durham said the whale probably was feeding close to shore when it was hit. Significant bruising was discovered after biologists peeled away skin from the mammal, she said. It also had damage to its tail.

Its cause of death likely was "blunt-force trauma from a ship strike," she said.

A Coast Guard spokesman for the New York Harbor area said no ships had reported striking a whale.

Durham said the whale's remains would be incinerated. First, researchers harvested its major organs for evaluation, she said.

With Gary Dymski

and William Murphy

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