ATLANTIC CITY — A minke whale, its underbelly tagged with purple spray paint, was found Thursday morning under Central Pier, where it had washed up.
Besides the graffiti-marred whale, a dead common dolphin was also found at the beach on Indiana Avenue, about a half dozen blocks away.
Atlantic City police said the graffiti marks were not gang-related. The discernible markings appeared to be Greek letters.
The whale, roughly 12 to 15 feet long, was dragged from beneath the pier down the beach to a site near Martin Luther King Boulevard using an excavator and chains.
The dolphin was about 5 feet long and weighed less than 200 pounds.
A state pathologist will take samples to determine the cause of death and then they will be buried on the beach, said Robert Schoelkopf, director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center.
"She'll collect samples and determine a cause of death," he said.
It was not immediately clear what either animal died from.
Neither animal showed visible signs of injury, but the whale did have what appeared to be Greek letters spray painted on its stomach.
Whales washing up on the beach are not uncommon, Schoelkopf said.
"We had a 57-foot fin whale wash up in Jersey City just a few weeks ago," he said.
The plans to bury the whale so close to the Boardwalk annoyed several shop owners.
Mary Mitchell, who owns a psychic shop on the 1700 block of the Boardwalk, said she and her neighbors were worried that the decomposing whale would smell during the summer.
Atlantic City police and members of the Marine Mammal Rescue Center were on scene.
Minke whales can be found in the Atlantic Ocean off the New England and the Canadian coast. Males typically measure 23 feet long, while females can be slightly longer.
The common dolphin typically grows to 6 or 7 feet in length and can weigh over 250 pounds.
Last summer at least 93 dolphins washed up along the Jersey shore, part of more than 430 dolphins that died as a result of an outbreak of the morbillivirus, officials have said.
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