A dead humpback whale washed up on the beach near the Oceano Dunes on Monday, according to California State Parks Capt. Kevin Pearce.
Authorities found the whale near the off-roading area at about 3 or 4 p.m., Pearce said. The juvenile whale was about 20 feet long.
The cause of death is unknown, Pearce said.
Pearce said the Channel Islands Cetacean Research Unit would usually perform a necropsy on the whale, but staff from the organization were unable to get to the area. State Parks staff collected samples of “different parts of the skin” and will send them to the organization for more analysis, Pearce said.
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State Parks officials buried the whale in the dunes “within the off-highway vehicle area” on Tuesday morning, according to Pearce.
The whale was buried to reduce potential hazards to people and vehicles, protect the snowy plover and least tern bird species from scavenger birds like seagulls and vultures, and “reduce visitor inconvenience due to the lengthy decomposition process,” Pearce said in an email.
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