VANCOUVER - Scientists have completed a necropsy on a massive fin whale found dead and curled across the bow of a cruise ship docked in Vancouver's harbour.
But Paul Cottrell, with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said Sunday it will be many days yet before the 20 researchers who conducted the exam will know how and when the whale died.
"There's lots of things that have to be analyzed on the whale," Cottrell said.
"It will probably be a while to get all that information together, to determine the cause of death and how long it had been dead."
Cottrell said it took two tugs to haul the 70-tonne creature off the ship on Saturday.
A marine mammal response team, including divers, put three slings under the whale.
"It was about 70 tonnes, which is a huge amount of weight. We were able to pull it off with some juggling around of the straps," Cottrell said.
The whale was towed across Burrard Inlet where it was loaded onto a barge and taken to the Fisheries lab in Sidney, on Vancouver Island.
With the necropsy done and all the tissue samples being analyzed, scientists now plan to return the whale to the waters off the west coast of Vancouver Island, likely by Tuesday.
"They really are islands of life.," Cottrell said.
"When they die, they sink to the bottom and its incredible the ecosystem that lives off their whale carcass. Part of it is their size. Some of them are there for years."