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Jun 29, 2016 5:44 PM

Whale that washed ashore in Rye removed in pieces to identify cause of death, draws record spectators

RYE – A humpback whale that washed ashore days ago has been removed in pieces after undergoing a necropsy.

“We’re looking for broken bones, we’re looking for damaged tissue, anything unusual,” said David Morin, a whale biologist for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

Experts removed the blubber, observed the organs and made plans to bury the skeleton at a farm until it is ready to be unearthed and put on display.

There was no obvious trauma to the whale, who was tracked by officials and was known as 'Snow Plow.' The 45-foot, 18-year-old humpback washed ashore Monday and has attracted thousands of spectators.

“I’ve been working for the aquarium for 15 years and it was the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen for a whale in those 15 years,” said Tony LaCasse. "I actually think that over several hours there were probably over 4,000 people.”

Whales rarely wash onto New Hampshire beaches because of tides and small coastline, LaCasse said. The last humpback whale known to have washed ashore in New Hampshire was all the way back in 1977.

Experts said identifying the cause of death could take days or weeks.

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