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Minke whale found at Robert Moses State Park died in ship strike

A team from the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation examined the body of a male minke whale at Robert Moses State Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015. A foundation spokeswoman said the carcass, which was found overnight, was covered in what appeared to be shark bites, but the exact cause of death was unknown. (Credit: Ed Betz and News 12 Long Island)

Marine experts believe a minke whale that washed ashore at Robert Moses State Park died following a ship strike.

A park employee discovered the carcass between fields 3 and 4 at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation began a necropsy on the beach early Thursday, spokeswoman Rachel Bosworth said.

Bosworth said the carcass of the 12-foot male was covered in what appeared to be shark bites.

Biologists sent out tissue samples to confirm their observations, but found evidence of trauma indicating a ship strike, she said. The whale likely died less than a week ago, and the shark bites occurred after its death.

Minke whales grow up to 35 feet long and are common throughout the Atlantic Ocean, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Another whale carcass was found last week on a Fire Island beach. The 28-foot humpback washed ashore at Ocean Ridge June 29 and is also believed to have died after a ship strike.

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