A boater reported seeing the whale almost 3 miles off Melbourne Tuesday, and authorities began planning to tow it ashore, The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported. It drifted to a Flagler County beach overnight, Allison Garrett of the NOAA Fisheries Service said.
Biologists who examined the whale Wednesday said it was a male. They were trying to determine the cause of death. The whale did not appear to have become entangled in fishing nets or have been hit by a ship, two of the major risks to whales, they said.
Right whales, hunted to near extinction, are among the rarest animals on Earth with the North Atlantic population believed to number no more than 400. They migrate from Canadian waters, where they spend the summer, to Florida and Georgia.
A right whale with a calf was spotted Wednesday off Crescent Beach in Flagler County and reported to the Marine Resources Council.