A dead humpback whale was found on the beach at Assateague Island National Seashore on Monday, according to the U.S. National Park Service.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the National Aquarium are attempting to determine how the 20-foot whale died, according to a park service news release, which also says there are “no obvious signs” to the cause of the whale’s death.
When the necropsy is completed, the whale will be moved from the upper part of the seashore’s oversand vehicle area to the sand dunes, where it will dry out before being buried.
Those who come across the whale are asked to keep a distance and to keep their dogs leashed, the release says.
“The carcass will smell for a while,” the release says. “But previous experience shows that the smell will not be a problem more than 50 yards or so from the actual location.”
The whale, as well as all marine mammals, are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which prohibits the collection of any parts of the mammal, according to the release.