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Cause of humpback whale’s death remains a mystery on Oregon coast

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A 38-foot-long humpback whale that died at sea and washed up on the Oregon coast south of Cannon Beach Friday will undergo a necropsy Monday morning to determine its cause of death, Seaside Aquarium officials said Sunday.

None is apparent from looking at the corpse, the aquarium’s Tiffany Booth said. The whale had been dead for quite a while before beaching on Falcon Cove beach, north of Oswald West State Park, she said.

The once-majestic creature isn’t looking so fabulous, after its stomach bloated while still at sea, squeezed out through the creature’s mouth and other openings in its body, then exploded.

Still, there is beauty and information at the scene. The humpback’s body is host to several species of barnacles that grow only on whales. Booth provided The Oregonian/OregonLive with detailed photographs of the Coronula diadema and Conchoderma auritum variety.

Humpback whales travel the longest migration routes of any mammal, aquarium officials said. The longest recorded migration was that of seven humpbacks, including one calf. That pod traveled 5,160 miles, from Costa Rica to Antarctica.

Humpbacks seen along the Oregon Coast travel a mere 3,000 miles between their feeding and breeding grounds. They have been known to complete the epic journey in as little as 36 days.

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