The young, 20-foot-long Humpback Whale
© Stephanie Little
The young, 20-foot-long Humpback Whale washed up near Oceano Dunes Monday night.
A Humpback Whale washed up Monday night on the Central Coast, leading to fascination— and concern over what killed it.

"It's very sad to see the animals die... especially not knowing if there was something we could do to help them," said Julie Morgan, who lives in Oceano.

While the death of any animal is a natural occurrence, the death of a whale is not something people see every day.

Morgan says she saw the young Humpback's carcass floating in the water off-shore Monday afternoon.

By nightfall, park rangers at Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreational Vehicle say the 20-foot-long creature made it to shore.

"The fins were huge," says Morgan. "I was impressed."

Morgan's friend, Camille Nelson, says she has been spotting plenty of whales off the coast in recent days

"This time of year we usually get a lot of whales passing through to Mexico," Nelson said.

Channel Islands Cetacean Research Unit, would normally conduct a necropsy — or animal autopsy— on the whale.

But the unit wasn't available.

So, California State Park scientists took tissue samples they will sent to the research unit.

Even if they can't pinpoint a cause of death, they hope to learn more about the young whale's life history.

"Everybody cares about the environment, especially in this area," Morgan said.

Workers say dead whales wash on shore every few years.

Heavy equipment was used to move the whale's carcass to the back dunes.

It was buried.

Rangers hope this will protect native bird species from predators and reduce the impact of the strong odor from families who live nearby and visitors to the beach.