Marine biologists are investigating the recent spike in deaths of sea life, where at least six fin whales have been found washed up on France’s western shores in a short period of time.
The whales were found with no apparent signs of being hit by a passing ship or being caught in a trawler’s net.
The fin whales are known to be the second largest species of whale after the blue whale to share the oceans.
The most recent whale washed up on the French shore on 16 November, and specialists have been busy trying to figure out the cause of death. Researchers have been using mechanical diggers and long knives to dissect the fin whale to take samples they believe might reveal evidence of a viral pathogen.
In an average year, between three and ten whales are found dead on France’s beaches. A researcher from the Pelagis Observatory working on the corpse, Willy Dabin, said that "We have what is almost an epidemic or, at any rate, an abnormal spike in deaths."
The most recent corpse was found near Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez, measured nearly 16 meters in length and weighed an estimated 10 tonnes.
The common fin whales which have been found dead within a period of six weeks, have all been malnourished and showed evidence of haemorrhaging in the cardiac respiratory systems.
"The question lurking in the background is: are humans a contributing factor in their capacity to upset the environment?" Dabin said. He added. "Either by impacting food availability or polluting the living environment, which could leave the whales more vulnerable to disease."
To try and keep intrigued locals at a distance, officials were placed to guard the carcass until a plan was made for the carcass to be removed. One local man also commented saying "It's disgusting. I don't know how they're going to remove it. Cut it up piece by piece?"