A dead humpback whale that washed onto land in Rhode Island last week has been buried after scientists evaluated it to find out what killed the animal, according to the Mystic Aquarium.
The 25-foot-long whale was spotted on the shore in Little Compton Saturday, Jan. 8, officials from the famed Connecticut aquarium said a week later, and the animal was examined for six hours Thursday before being buried.
Data from the necropsy -- similar to a human autopsy -- will be used to help officials understand what caused the animal's death and that of others, the aquarium said.
More than 150 humpback whales have died in strandings since 2016, according to federal data cited by the aquarium.
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"The tragic loss of this animal is a sad but important reminder of the dire circumstances many cetaceans currently face," said Stephen M. Coan, president and CEO of Mystic Aquarium, in a statement. "The environment where these whales live is changing rapidly due to the impact of human activity and climate change. We must make every effort now to ensure a future for these incredible species."
Also assisting in the necropsy were the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and the National Marine Fisheries Service.