Scientists are hoping necropsies scheduled for this afternoon will reveal how two whales died before washing ashore near Long Beach in recent days.
A 39-foot sperm whale washed ashore 6.9 miles north of Seaview, Wash., on Sunday and a 13-foot newborn gray whale washed ashore just south of Oysterville, Wash., today.
Heavy winds pushed the whales in, said Seaside Aquarium curator Keith Chandler.
Debbie Duffield, a professor of biology at Portland State University, will conduct the necropsies on both animals.
It's unlikely much information will come from the sperm whale because its remains aren't in good condition, Chandler said. It had been dead long before it washed ashore.
The gray whale was only about a week old when it died and also was dead before it was found on the beach, but its remains are in better condition and may offer more information, he said.
The necropsies can tell scientists not only how the whales died but about conditions at sea in general, Chandler said. "We just try to find out what is going on out there, what is killing them. We take samples so we can find out what of toxins are in the animal."
The north coast sees about four or five dead whales a year, Chandler said.