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© Fisheries and Oceans Canada
This photo, taken from a helicopter on Aug. 21, shows a dead bowhead whale on its back on a beach north of Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T. Its tail is submerged in water.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada is investigating after a bowhead whale was found dead on the Northwest Territories' Arctic coastline.

The cause of the whale's death is so far undetermined but there is no reason to link it to 30 dead whales found this summer in Alaska and six found off British Columbia, said a spokesperson for the department in an email.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada received a report of a beached bowhead whale near Toker Point, about 25 kilometres north of Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., last Thursday.

The spokesperson says beachcast bowheads are not uncommon in the area, with 24 events on record between 1987 and 2014. ‎

Ron Felix, a hunter from Tuktoyaktuk, said he saw the whale when boating home from a caribou hunt at nearby Atkinson Point with his son, James. He said that a large number of seagulls alerted him to the carcass.

"As soon as we saw the seagulls, I knew what it was," he said. "There was a carcass in the bay, right in the beach there. It was black. Must be about 25 feet or so.

"I've never seen that," he said. "Never seen a bowhead on this side. So this is pretty rare."

Felix, who is also a carver, said that Tuktoyaktuk residents, including himself, may use the whale's bones to create artwork. He said that he expects the carcass to be eaten by animals, but isn't concerned about it attracting polar bears to Tuktoyaktuk.

"The odd one, the young ones may come up, but that's it," he said. "We have a lot of dogs here in town and they warn us if any animals come from the ice."

Biologists are attempting to determine a possible cause of death and data such as the age and sex of the whale, but the results "may not be conclusive due to the position and state of decomposition of the bowhead," said the email from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.