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Puget Sound orca found dead off British Columbia was pregnant with full-term fetus; teeth cut

In this photo taken on Nov. 29, 2014, provided by San Juan Orcas, Puget Sound orcas known as the J-pod swim together in Spieden Channel, north of San Juan Island. The death of an endangered Puget Sound orca found on Vancouver Island in Canada might have been related to pregnancy issues, a research group said Friday, Dec. 5, 2014. The 18-year-old female, seen at right, that washed ashore Thursday was a member of the J-pod, one of three families of southern resident killer whales that spend time in the inland waters of Washington state and Canada.    (AP Photo/San Juan Orcas, Melisa Pinnow)

In this photo taken on Nov. 29, 2014, provided by San Juan Orcas, Puget Sound orcas known as the J-pod swim together in Spieden Channel, north of San Juan Island. The death of an endangered Puget Sound orca found on Vancouver Island in Canada might have been related to pregnancy issues, a research group said Friday, Dec. 5, 2014. The 18-year-old female, seen at right, that washed ashore Thursday was a member of the J-pod, one of three families of southern resident killer whales that spend time in the inland waters of Washington state and Canada. (AP Photo/San Juan Orcas, Melisa Pinnow)  (The Associated Press)

The necropsy on the orca found dead off Vancouver Island showed it was pregnant with a full-term fetus.

Experts had speculated the death may have arisen from birth complications. Biologists have yet to determine the cause of death.

The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans also says someone removed several teeth from the dead killer whale before it could be examined. Pacific marine mammals coordinator Paul Cottrell says a couple of teeth were broken off and others were sawed off at the gum line. It's illegal to possess part of an endangered animal.

The orca known as J-32 was found floating in the water Thursday near Courtenay. It was moved to a boat launch Friday for the necropsy.

The death leaves 77 animals in the Puget Sound orca population.