The body of a minke whale was discovered beached in the marsh near channel marker WR6 off the coast of Wachapreague, Va. on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center's Stranding Response team performed a necropsy to determi
© Jay C. Ford
The body of a minke whale was discovered beached in the marsh near channel marker WR6 off the coast of Wachapreague, Va. on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center's Stranding Response team performed a necropsy to determine the whale's cause of death on Sunday.

A mature minke whale washed up onto a mud flat near channel marker WR6 outside Wachapreague on September 17.

According to Jay C. Ford, the Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper, there was nothing obvious about its injuries or cause of death following a necropsy on September 18, but the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center's stranding team will send tissue and blood samples to a pathologist in Washington, D.C. The pathology reports will take several weeks to be processed.

"The body was pretty beaten up," said Ford. "The lead scientist cautioned that more than likely the cause of death won't be determined."

According to Ford, the whale was 24 feet long. It's heart weighed approximately 15 to 20 pounds and uterine scarring indicated that it had been pregnant at some point.

"I learned so much about whales, yesterday," said Ford. "The inside of the heart was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen."

The Shorekeeper notified the aquarium's stranding team and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

The Aquarium's stranding team responds to approximately 75-125 stranded marine mammals in Virginia, yearly. If you see a stranded sea turtle or marine mammal in Virginia, call the Aquarium Stranding Response Team at (757) 385-7575.

The team was contacted on Monday, September 19 but was unable to respond immediately.