A 24-foot Minke whale washed ashore Sunday morning in Old Orchard Beach. Marine Mammals of Maine said they had responded to the same whale last week when it was floating in Casco Bay. Credit: WGME

A dead 24-foot Minke whale was found on the beach in Old Orchard Beach Sunday morning, and a local group is working to find out why it died.

The whale had previously been spotted floating in Casco Bay on Wednesday, according to Lynda Doughty, director of Marine Mammals of Maine.

The group was called to an area off Seacliff Avenue around 10 a.m. Sunday.

[Decomposed carcass of 15-foot shark washes up on Higgins Beach]

Doughty said samples were taken from the whale on both occasions to help determine why it died.

“There was no obvious cause of death,” she said.

Because of the warm weather and warmer water temperatures the whale had decomposed quite a bit between Wednesday and Sunday.

Sharks had also ravaged the whale.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has been following higher numbers of Minke whales dying in recent years.

According to NOAA’s website, “Since January 2017, elevated Minke whale mortalities have occurred along the Atlantic coast from Maine through South Carolina. A table of stranding numbers by state is below. While Minke whales are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the species is not listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act.”

The whale will remain on the scene until Monday. Doughty said the group is working with town officials on its removal.

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