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Washed ashore whale becomes spectacle in Virginia

Preston Gannaway / The Virginian-Pilot via AP

Two young men pose for a photo "planking" a beached fin whale in Ocean View in Norfolk, Va., on Feb. 21.

Preston Gannaway / The Virginian-Pilot via AP

Detail of a fin whale seen as the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team performs a necropsy on the beach in Norfolk, Va., on Feb. 21.

Curious people turned out to witness an autopsy performed by the Virginia Aquarium's Stranding Response Team on a 42-foot fin whale that washed ashore in Ocean View, Va., on Feb. 19.

The whale suffered a huge 1.5-foot gash on the back of its head resulting in a fractured skull. Traces of orange and brown paint or rust were found around the injuries suggesting the mammal was hit by a vessel, according to a spokesperson for the Stranding Response Team.

The fin whale is considered an endangered species and is the second longest whale and the sixth largest living animal.

-- Msnbc.com wire services contributed to this blog post

Preston Gannaway / AP

People watch from above as the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team performs a necropsy on the beach in Ocean View in Norfolk, Va., on Feb. 21.

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