Preliminary findings from a necropsy conducted on on Saturday show that it was malnourished and had likely been bitten by a shark, according to the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation.
The calf had a circular wound on the right side of its tail stock that was approximately two feet by five feet wide, according to Kim Durham from The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation. The wound had shown signs of healing and appeared to be that of a shark or other predator.
The injury, Durham explained, "could answer the question as to why a young calf wasn't where it should be, off shore with a group of maternal whales."
The examination was performed on Sunday morning, and also revealed that the sperm whale calf weighed 2.5 tons, was 18 feet long and had suffered from malnutrition.
In regard to the age of the young calf Durham stated, "The teeth had not erupted so that was something that was interesting, confirming the age."
"We would say less than two years, maybe a year and a half old." Durham said.
The full necropsy included not only an examination of the sperm whale calf but pictures, written description and tissues samples as well.
The full findings, including pathology, will not be known for several months. Durham believes the results will confirm their initial findings.
"I think it is going to confirm the malnutrition and just unfortunately the poor body condition she was in." she said.
Some of the public at the scene on Saturday had criticized the Foundation for not doing more to end the whale's suffering, Durham said, but she explained that the protocol followed by the Foundation on Saturday was for the safety of everyone involved.
"It was hard. It was hard for even the experienced people," she said. "I’ve been doing this for 19 years and it certainly wasn’t any easier for me."