Southern Resident orca J34 died of blunt force trauma to the head, according to an initial necropsy report from the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
The report found J34 had blunt force trauma to the dorsal side and a hematoma, or blood collection outside the vessels. This indicates the orca was alive when it was injured. The department is investigating what caused the blunt force trauma.
The 18-year-old male orca was found dead Monday off the coast of British Columbia, about 40 miles from Vancouver.
The department will also do a CAT scan on the orca’s skull to see if there are any fractures. Results from additional blood and tissue testing can take between two to eight weeks.
At least two other endangered orcas have died this year. A 23-year-old female called J28 died in October, and a male called L95 died in April.