A large whale that washed ashore Long Beach Island this weekend was buried on the beach, authorities say.
The Marine Mammal Stranding Center responded early Sunday morning to reports of a 54-foot male fin whale trapped in the surf at Barnegat Light, near 19th and 20th avenues.
A technician arrived to find the whale dead. It had reportedly suffered significant injuries consistent with those of a ship strike, in addition to several large shark bites.
The tragic scene caused a spectacle that lasted hours as people documented the incident via social media and paid respects to the deceased whale. Crews buried the whale at the spot where it washed ashore. It was in the ground by about noontime Sunday, NJ.com reports.
An examination of the whale found it had sustained significant trauma on its right side, likely caused by a ship. The bite wounds were 18 to 24 inches in diameter, likely from sharks who fed on it after it was injured.
The whale was probably struck by the ship a few days before Sunday.
It is the second fin whale the stranding center has examined in as many weeks. Another 50-foot whale washed ashore on Cape Henlopen, Delaware, recently and drowned in the surf. Its fate was believed to have resulted from parasitic infections to its internal organs. It was also buried on the beach.
The ages of the two deceased whales was not specified. Fin whales can live up to 90 years.