File photo of humpback whale. Photo: <.com

A humpback whale, launched on the beach of Wadden Island in the Freeland Islands on Monday, was found by autopsy on the animal’s body, probably dying from starvation.

Whales were extremely underweight and showed signs of dehydration, marine biologist Ronneke IJsseldijk told local broadcaster Omrop Fryslân.

IJsseldijk said the whale was only a few years old and may not have had enough experience to procure its own food.

“Whales don’t drink, they get water from food,” she explained. “She was a young woman and she was supposed to wean and find her food. It’s always an important time in cetacean life.

The whale was discovered by fishermen near Zeeland in late May and then off the coast of Den Helder.

Humpback whales are “exploring the North Sea,” Jaap vander Hiele of the marine mammal rescue service EHBZ told NOS at the time. “A few years ago, they appeared off the coast of Vlissingen and in Osterschelde. They can swim perfectly in the shallows, so they are not at risk,” he said.

IJsseldijk is currently inspecting the contents of the whale’s stomach and intestines. Animal skulls and pectoral fins go to Leiden’s Natural History Museum Naturalis for further study.

Naturalis researcher Peter Kaminga said dead whales are a “great opportunity” for Naturalis. “I rarely study dead humpback whales, last time 10 years ago when I looked at the humpback whale Johanna,” Kaminga said.

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