What killed the young humpback whale that washed ashore in Gig Harbor?

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A necropsy will be performed Saturday on a 23-foot, year-old humpback whale that washed ashore in Gig Harbor last week.

John Calambokidis, with the Cascadia Research Collective, said Thursday that the dead female whale was first reported to authorities Dec. 19  on a section of beach north of the opening into Gig Harbor. It was confirmed on Dec. 20.

The carcass was transported to a farm in Gig Harbor, where Cascadia Research Collective will do a necropsy to determine the animal’s cause of death. Then a crew of volunteers will help cut up the whale, bury it to help it decompose, and then dig it up in the summer. Its skeleton will be placed on display at the Foss Waterway Seaport.

Calambokidis said researchers have noted a general increase in the presence of humpback whales in the Salish Sea.