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Whale, likely struck by ship, washes ashore dead in Malibu

December 5, 2012 | 12:09 pm

A young 41-foot male fin whale that washed onto a Malibu beach was likely struck by a ship, wildlife officials said Wednesday.  

The endangered whale died after sustaining tissue and vertebrae damage to its back, according to a Tuesday necropsy by the California Wildlife Center. It washed ashore Monday. 

"It's relatively common for it to happen, it's really unfortunate," said Cindy Reyes, executive director of the California Wildlife Center.  

Los Angeles County lifeguards were going to try to pull the whale out to sea Wednesday or Thursday if the tide is high enough, Reyes said.  

There are about 2,300 fin whales along the California, Oregon and Washington coasts, Reyes said. They can grow to be 75 to 85 feet long, weigh up to 80 tons and live to be 90 years old.  

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is tracking where shipping lanes and whale migration patterns overlap near where the the young whale was hit.  

While it's not common to identify which ship hit the whale, determining the overlap can help officials determine if ship routes need to be changed, said Christine Patrick, NOAA spokeswoman.

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