A dead humpback whale washed up Friday afternoon in Sea Isle City near 20th street.

The whale was sighted off the coast of Strathmere earlier in the day but floated down to Sea Isle City.

The Marine Mammal Stranding Center is on scene. Workers are preparing to remove the whale from the beach with a piece of heavy equipment. Police have taped off the area.

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Bob Schoelkopf, the center’s founding director, said the whale is a young male that likely weighs 20 tons and is around 33 feet long.

The cause of death was not immediately clear but Schoelkopf said the whale may have been sick or its mother may have died. There were no visible bite marks on the animal from sharks or other large predators.

Humpback whales occasionally are hit by boat propellers or get caught in fishing lines.

The whale is being pulled higher up on the beach where it will stay overnight, Schoelkopf said. On Saturday the center will perform a necropsy to determine how the animal died. That could take up to eight hours.

Adult male humpback whales can grow to be over 40 feet long and weigh between 25 and 40 tons.

The whales are known for their long, haunting calls as well as their breaching behavior, which they throw their bodies out of the water, according to the American Cetacean Society.

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