A large baleen whale measuring approximately 50 feet long was found belly up in northern Tampa Bay, Fla., over the weekend.
The massive whale was bloated, with long scrape marks carved into its blubber, FOX's Tampa affiliate WTVT reported.
The whale's giant body was first found in a canal where large freighters travel in southern Florida. Officials did not know what killed the giant whale, WTVT reported. The basin was being treated like a crime scene.
"Whales of this size, pushing 50 feet long, are rarely seen along our coastline — most stay deeper than the Gulf of Mexico shelf break 80 miles out," Keith Mullin, research fishery biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told WTVT.
Blair Mase, NOAA's stranding coordinator, expressed a theory to WTVT, suggesting that the whale, perhaps from the Gulf, could have collided with a ship once it was already dead and could have been dragged all the way into the canal.
Officials plan to carry out a full necropsy and then move the large mammal into the grounds of Fort De Soto, Fla.
Experts will strip one side of blubber, cut through the muscle and scoop out the mammal's innards. They'll examine the body, analyze the blubber and look for any broken bones before ruling the cause of death.
The whale will then be buried 20 feet below ground in the water table, joining sperm whales, manatees, sea turtles and dolphins. Some of these animals have been buried there since 1975, about 100 feet from the shore, WTVT reported.