Fin Whale beached on the Cape Henlopen coast

A beached fin whale on the coast of Cape Henlopen State Park on August 27, 2021

A fin whale that died after it had beached itself on a sandbar on the bayside of the Point of Cape Henlopen suffered from multiple underlying conditions, according to a necropsy performed by the the Marine Education Research and Rehabilitation Institute (MERR).

MERR said its necropsy determined the whale had significant parasitic infections in the liver, lungs and kidneys. Additionally, they said the whale's thin body and empty stomach suggested it had been impaired and had not eaten recently.

"Vessel trauma consistent with a propeller and skeg interaction was present on the back of the animal, however, the injury was small and showed evidence of healing, suggesting it was unrelated to the cause of stranding," MERR said in a Facebook post.

The whale stopped breathing around lunchtime Friday before MERR and the Virginia Aquarium had planned to provide palliative care, sedation, or euthanasia.

The whale was buried on the beach in the evening by the Shoreline and Waterways Management team from DNREC.