Days after a humpback whale in a Long Island bay was euthanized, biologists examined its remains, trying to understand why it became stuck on the sandbar.
They found bruises on the juvenile female whale that got stuck in Moriches Bay on Nov. 20, but can't say if those injuries played any role.
"The fact that we found trauma already points in one direction but what that meant, we'll have to wait and see," said David Morin of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Morin says anything from illness to bad luck could have prompted the tragedy.
Samples from the necropsy were being sent to a lab for testing, and results aren't expected back for another two to four weeks, according to NOAA.
The whale got stuck on the sandbar in the bar, just east of the Hamptons, two weekends ago and had been in the area for more than a week before that. A veterinary team from NOAA found the whale thin, limp, weak and minimally responsive, and ultimately euthnanized with injectable medications last Wednesday, saying it was the most humane option.
Federal officials now say it was more than 29 feet long and weighed some 15 tons -- so big that a tow strap used to pull its remains to shore snapped Sunday.
Spectators and activists who had watched the whale from the shore for days were devastated when it was euthanized, and some held a vigil for it on Sunday.
Mike Busch was among the group, and argued that federal officials should have gotten to the whale sooner and done more to save her.
The NOAA team arrived three days after the whale first became stuck on the sandbar.
Humpback whales are common in the region. One recently has been seen swimming in the Hudson River.