Crews work to move 50,000-pound whale that washed up on Duxbury Beach

Crews work to move 50,000-pound whale that washed up on Duxbury Beach

DUXBURY, Mass. — A 50,000-pound male finback that washed up on Duxbury Beach on Monday will remain there, with part of the beach closed, as biologists continue their work to determine why it died.

The whale's carcass was spotted floating off the coast of Marshfield on Sunday by a boater and then washed ashore. Biologists from the New England Aquarium are now collecting tissue samples.

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"Is it something that's a disease? Is it contagious to other whales?" Connie Merigo, director of the Marine Animal Rescue Program at the New England Aquarium, said. "Is it some interaction with maybe man-made items, maybe a ship or something?"

While researchers had questions, others were simply left shocked by the sheer size of the whale. Curious onlookers gathered to see the 55-foot whale, spanning about the length of two school buses, and weighing nearly 27 tons.

This is only the third time in 50 years that a whale has washed up on this beach, said Cris Luttazi, who manages the Duxbury Beach Reservation. "This is certainly, by far, the largest whale we've had here at Duxbury Beach."

While some worried about the smell of the dead whale, other residents were left saddened, wondering about what led to the death.

"It's just sad that it washed up," Marshfield native Cody Lalancette said. "I don't know what happened to it, but it's just a bummer."

The whale is so large that crews have to use heavy machinery to move the whale. A police officer said Tuesday that the plan is to bury it nearby.

Finback whales are the second longest whales in the region after the blue whale and are often spotted on whale watching tours off Massachusetts. They can usually reach up to 75 feet.

Biologists are finishing a necropsy on the whale but it could take weeks or even months before the cause is known.