A necrospy on an endangered killer whale found floating off the coast of British Columbia showed the animal had blunt-force trauma to its head and neck, officials say.
"We did a full necropsy right there on the beach", Cottrell said.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans confirmed J34, an 18-year-old orca, was found dead near Sechelt on December 20.
The death this week of another Puget Sound killer whale makes 2016 one of the worst in recent history for the endangered marine mammals.
Scientists are trying to determine what caused the death of a male killer whale that washed up near Sechelt on Tuesday. The population now totals 79.
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Researchers at The Center For Whale Research located on San Juan Island have been studying the orca for 40 years.
He was the fourth member of J-pod to die this year, according to the group, which has repeatedly raised concerns that the cetaceans aren't getting enough salmon.
Observers this summer noted that the animal was looking thin, said center Director Ken Balcomb.
Cottrell says it's possible the injuries could have been sustained in a fight but admits boat strike is also a possibility.
Cottrell said the whale skull will be taken to Vancouver and analyzed to see whether there are any factures.