NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - Virginia Aquarium officials told WAVY.com they plan to bury a whale on the beach where it washed ashore Sunday.
The Stranding Response Team is performing a necropsy Tuesday and will bury the 42-foot whale once it's complete. The mammal washed ashore Sunday morning on the beach near First View Street in Ocean View.
The Virginia Aquarium's Stranding Response Team responded to examine the whale and initially identified the 42-foot whale as a male Sei whale, but later determined it is a male fin whale, which is an endangered species.
The whale suffered a huge 1.5-foot gash on the back of its head resulting in a fractured skull. Also found by the whale's injuries were traces of orange and brown paint or rust, suggesting the whale was hit by a vessel, according to a spokesperson for the Stranding Response Team.
Joan Barnes with the Virginia Aquarium says because of the holiday weekend, the whale could not be moved after it washed ashore.
"The whale's skin and organs are still in tact and in good condition, indicating that the animal has not been dead for long," said Susan Barco, senior scientist of the Aquarium's Stranding Response Program.
The Aquarium's Stranding Response Team had to wait until Tuesday to perform a necropsy because of the city holiday on Monday and the unfavorable weather conditions anticipated for the beginning of the week.
Officials were on the scene Monday to monitor people's behavior around the whale.
Stranding Response Team member Jackie Bort said the warm winter has attracted an unusual number of whales that migrate along the coast.
"Having warmer water and weather means more plankton, which means more small fish, which means more of these large predators out here," Bort explained.
Bort added finding what killed the whale is important, "We need to know if we need to regulate shipping in this area..."
But the whale may have been dead before its collision with a vessel. Bohn Lowe, A 17-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, told WAVY.com Naval ships work to avoid collisions with the large sea mammals.
"We see a bunch of whales, a bunch of dolphins. We try to stand and stay clear, but a lot of times the dolphins will come up close towards the ship," Lowe said.
SUBLANT spokesman Kevin Copeland confirmed another recent incident involving a marine mammal. USS Boise had an encounter with a mammal on Feb. 2. That mammal was believed to be 12 feet long. It was witnessed swimming away on its own. The incident happened in the vicinity of Thimble Shoals.
Rules for ships or boats that encounter whales are established by the National Oceanagraphic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The guidelines forbid vessels from approaching a whale head-on and require a ship or boat to maintain a certain distance from the animal.
Police arrested one man and are looking for another suspect after a fight involving shots fired in Chesapeake.
A woman is facing reckless driving charges after hitting a worker Wednesday morning, according to Virginia State Police.
A Kill Devil Hills man is facing charges after a fight involving a gun.