London Whale Died of Dehydration, Autopsy Shows

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Further tests should show whether the whale had any bacterial or viral infection. Scientists are also analyzing samples for traces of pollutants such as heavy metals.

The whale's carcass has now been taken to London's Natural History Museum, where it will be added to the museum's research collection.

Richard Sabin, a zoologist at the museum, says the autopsy suggests the whale had been in the North Sea for several days before swimming up the Thames.

"The North Sea is quite a hostile environment for deep-diving whales like the northern bottlenose," he said. "It's a fairly shallow water body, and there's nothing for them to feed on."

Navigation Risk

"The coastline has very gently sloping, sandy beaches. And, as these animals are heavily dependent on echolocation to navigate, it can be difficult for them to detect when they are getting into shallower and shallower water [in this area]," Sabin added.

Animal-welfare groups had said that navy sonar or explosions at a coastal military site operated by a defense contractor may have disoriented the whale.

"It's not something that the postmortem has highlighted," Sabin said. "Paul Jepson thinks it's highly unlikely, and he's the most experienced person in the country regarding the effects of naval sonar on cetaceans." The cetacean order of marine mammals includes whales, dolphins, and porpoises.

Sabin adds that cuts sustained by the whale while swimming in the Thames were only superficial.

A team from the Natural History Museum collected the whale carcass yesterday. Soft tissue has now been removed from the skeleton, which will be stored and studied by researchers.

"The whale captured the imagination of the British public and of people all over the world, and now her legacy will live on," Sabin said.

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